UNA-NY Screening the Issues

Seeds of Time

Please join us for this screening
followed by a discussion with special guests

Film Director

Special Advisor to the Global Crop Diversity Trust



Friday | May 9, 2014

5:30 - 6:00 p.m. | Registration
Screening begins promptly at 6:00 p.m.

Dolby 88 Screening Room
1350 Avenue of the Americas (at West 55th Street)
Lobby Level
New York, NY 10019



UNA Members: $10
UNA Students Members: FREE
Guests and Non-Members: $15

NOTE: Reservations for this event are now closed to avoid overbooking. There may be a standby line at the venue, although we cannot guarantee admission for everyone.

SEEDS OF TIME is a powerful and cinematic portrayal of one man's mission to warn the world of the potentially dire consequences of our dwindling agricultural diversity.

10,000 years ago the biggest revolution in human history occurred: we became agrarians. We ceased merely hunting and gathering and began to farm, breeding and domesticating plants that have resulted in the crops we eat today. But the genetic diversity of these crops, which were developed over millennium, is vanishing today. And the consequences of this loss could be dire.

As the production of high yielding, uniform varieties has increased, diversity has declined. For example, in U.S. vegetable crops we now have less than seven percent of the diversity that existed just a century ago. We are confronted with the global pressures of feeding a growing population, in a time when staple crops face new threats from disease and changing climates.

Crop diversity pioneer Cary Fowler travels the world, educating the public about the dire consequences of our inaction. Along with his team at The Global Crop Diversity Trust in Rome, Cary struggles to re-invent a global food system so that it can, in his words: "last forever." He aims to safeguard the last place in which much of our diversity is left intact: the world's vulnerable gene banks.

Although a perfect storm is brewing, as this agriculture pioneer races against time to protect the future of our food. Gene banks of the world are crumbling, crop failures are producing starvation inspired rioting, and the accelerating effects of climate change are already affecting farmers globally.

From Rome to Russia and, finally, a remote island under the Arctic Circle, Fowler's passionate and personal journey may hold the key to saving the one resource we cannot live without: our seeds.

Beautifully filmed with natural photography from many locations across the globe, SEEDS OF TIME is a film of vitally important issues for us all to learn about and consider at this time.

Sandy McLeod is a critically acclaimed independent filmmaker with experience in most of the major areas of filmmaking.

She has directed and produced numerous music videos with artists such as UB40, Bruce Springsteen, Luther Vandross, Chrissy Hynde, and Roy Orbison. A music video with the Talking Heads, which she conceptualized and directed, was featured at the New York Film Festival and is now part of the permanent collection in New York's Museum of Modern Art.

Sandy had a central role in the making of the Talking Heads' concert film, Stop Making Sense. She worked with cinematographer Jordan Cronenweth and director Jonathan Demme to establish the innovative textural elements of this landmark film.

Her short documentary Asylum the story of a Ghanaian woman's pursuit of political asylum to escape female genital mutilation was nominated for an Academy Award and an Emmy.

Prior to joining the Global Crop Diversity Trust as its former Executive Director, Dr. Cary Fowler was Professor and Director of Research in the Department for International Environment & Development Studies at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences. He was also a Senior Advisor to the Director General of Bioversity International. In this latter role, he represented the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) in negotiations on the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.

Cary's career in the conservation and use of crop diversity spans 30 years. He was Program Director for the National Sharecroppers Fund / Rural Advancement Fund, a US-based NGO engaged in plant genetic resources education and advocacy. In 1985 he was awarded the Right Livelihood Award (the "Alternative Nobel Prize") in a ceremony in the Swedish Parliament.

In the 1990s, he headed the International Conference and Programme on Plant Genetic Resources at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), which produced the UN's first ever global assessment of the state of the world's plant genetic resources. He drafted and supervised negotiations of FAO's Global Plan of Action for Plant Genetic Resources, adopted by 150 countries in 1996. That same year he served as Special Assistant to the Secretary General of the World Food Summit. During the negotiation process of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources, Cary chaired a series of off-the-record retreats with key delegates, sponsored by the Nordic countries.

He is a past-member of the National Plant Genetic Resources Board of the U.S. and the Board of Trustees of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Mexico, and is currently Chair of the International Advisory Council of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. He holds a position as Associate Curator at the Memphis City Family of Museums.

Cary has been profiled by CBS 60 Minutes and the New Yorker, is the author of several books on the subject of plant genetic resources and more than 75 articles on the topic in agriculture, law, and development journals.

Cary earned his Ph.D. at the University of Uppsala (Sweden), and in 2008 received an honorary doctorate from Simon Fraser University (Canada). In 2010, the Russian Academy of Agricultural Sciences awarded him the Vavilov Medal for his "exceptional contribution" to the cause of conserving plant genetic resources for present and future generations. He also received a 2010 Heinz Award for his "vision and efforts in the preservation of the world's food supply."

Sandy McLeod | Director's Statement

When I met Cary Fowler a whole new world opened up to me. I realized that, although I thought I knew a thing or two about food, the issues that he was grappling with were entirely new to me. And that those issues, largely concerning food security, are issues that anyone who likes to eat should not only know about, but have a say in too.

Cary Fowler is a guy who has almost single-handedly created something of great value for the Global Community. I can't think of many other global projects that have that kind of absolute value for all of us that the Svalbard Global Seed Vault holds.

The Peruvian farmers give a face to the smallholder farmer who has saved the diversity that Cary is trying to preserve. Together they represent a way forward to a more sustainable future.

Our food system is not sustainable or secure and this is a problem that affects us all. Without a good agricultural foundation we can't have sustainable agriculture and without sustainable agriculture, we will not have a sustainable future.


NOTE: Reservations for this event are now closed.

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NOTE: Only UNA-NY Members have guaranteed seating to all our Screening the Issues film events, and attend for free or pay the discounted Members' admission, while UNA-NY Student Members attend ALL events for free. Non-Members must purchase tickets in advance to guarantee their seats. While we do offer a pay-at-the-door policy for guests and non-members, our events are often sold-out, so we strongly encourage membership with UNA-NY to guarantee your seats! Why not take advantage?