Film Screening: The World According to Monsanto

Feature story - May 25, 2008
An acclaimed documentary by filmmaker Marie-Monique Robin on the genetic engineering and chemical conglomerate Monsanto (The World According to Monsanto), makes its English Canadian Premier tonight at the National Film Board's monthly Green Screen series in Toronto. Marie-Monique Robin will introduce her film at tonight's screening.

Greenpeace activists have created a 61-metre crop circle in a corn field in Abbotsford, British Columbia. The field contains Monsanto’s NK603 genetically engineered (GE) corn, which scientists recently linked with liver and kidney toxicity in rats. Greenpeace is calling for mandatorylabelling of GE foods across Canada.

Celebrated journalist, and winner of the 1995 Prix Albert-Londres, Robin explores the past and present of Monsanto in this hit documentary. Interest in the film has already spawned a global movement. One million people tried to access it on Google in the first month of its release. On the very first day, overuse caused the film website's server to shut down. The film has been translated into nine languages. It was even shown at a United Nations meeting on the environment, the Convention on Biodiversity being held in Bonn.

An accompanying book Le Monde selon Monsanto: de la dioxine aux OGM, une multinationale qui vous veut du bien (The World According to Monsanto: from dioxins to GMOs, a multinational that wishes you well) was also released in French in Canada this week. Already book sales in France have reached 100,000.

The film documents the history of the global leader in genetically engineered seeds, one of the most controversial companies in the history of modern industry. From the production of chemicals such as PCB, and polystyrene to deadly herbicides, such as the Agent Orange used in Vietnam, and bovine growth hormones used in milk, Monsanto has accumulated since its founding in 1901 a long legal record of trials stemming from the toxicity of its products.

But what are the real objectives this company? The fruit of three years of exceptional investigation conducted on four continents, The World According to Monsanto traces the origins of an industrial empire. The film alleges that Monsanto by means of falsified reports, governments collusion, lobbying and attempts at corruption, has become one of the largest seed companies in the world. With offices in 46 countries, it is responsible for 90 per cent of the genetically engineered crops grown worldwide.

Despite its long history of toxic products, Monsanto is now trying to represent itself as a "life-science" company, converted to the virtues of sustainable development. It has obtained 90 per cent of the patents on genetically engineered soy, corn, canola and cotton grown in the world. Through a succession of mergers and acquisitions, it is on its way to becoming the world leader in seed production, and along the way, to controlling the food chain of the entire planet. Roundup, its herbicide developed in 1974, has been key to its global conquest, as it has patented GE crops designed to be used with this herbicide. Given the long list of deadly products associated with the company, filmmaker Robin is accurate to label Monsanto as one of "the most controversial companies of the industrial era."

The World According to Monsanto premiers tonight at 6:30 pm at

The National Film Board,

150 John St, Toronto


Screening is free and will be followed by a panel discussion including:

Dr. Stephen Scharper, Associate Professor with the Centre for the Study of Religion and the Centre for Environment at the University of Toronto

Dr. Mary Alton McKay, International Consultant, Food & Nutrition

Moderator: Anne Mitchell, Director of Canadian Institute for Environmental Law and Policy

Starting on May 23 the film is also being screened at:

AMC Theatres - Forum 22

2313 St. Catherine St. West, Montreal

at 02:25 PM, 05:00 PM, 07:35 PM, 10:10 PM