Magazine article Canadian Dimension

The Genetic Matrix: The Schmeiser Case and the Fight for the Future of Life

Magazine article Canadian Dimension

The Genetic Matrix: The Schmeiser Case and the Fight for the Future of Life

Article excerpt

The Genetic Matrix: The Schmeiser Case and the Fight for the Future of Life

Produced and directed by Ian Mauro

The Council of Canadians and Dead Crow Productions, 2004

Saskatchewan farmer Percy Schmeiser's battle with agri-biotech behemoth Monsanto has all the ingredients of an absorbing story: the proliferation of genetically engineered crops; the clandestine surveillance and ensuing prosecution of a small family farmer by a corporate colossus bent on criminalizing the age-old practice of seed saving; the controversy over the legitimacy of patenting life forms. Regrettably, just as Schmeiser failed to win justice from the Canadian Supreme Court, whose 2004 five-to-four decision upheld Monsanto's claim of patent infringement, filmmaker Ian Mauro stops far short of doing justice to Schmeiser's struggle and its far-reaching implications in his 35-minute documentary.

The Genetic Matrix is a stoutly sympathetic but also tediously didactic and jumbled portrayal of Schmeiser's protracted efforts to defend himself from Monsanto's 1998 lawsuit against him. Schmeiser was charged with replanting seeds from canola that was genetically modified to be resistant to Monsanto's RoundUp weed killer. The case made history for being the first in Canada to argue that a patent on a life form had been infringed.

While the film may console the converted, its amateurish camera work and generally poor production values will deter newcomers to the story. Instead of reaching for visually and verbally imaginative ways to illustrate and illuminate some of the complex issues raised by the case, the filmmaker chose to rely solely on a series of talking heads, interspersing these excerpts with too much dreary footage of Percy in press conferences, Percy in press scrums, Percy sitting in his truck listening to himself on the radio, Percy receiving awards and honours. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.