Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 12th 2013 Contents MARK LYNDERSAY
The Green Screen Environmen-
tal Film Series ends tomorrow
after a successful two-week run.
Hosted by Sustain T&T, this year s
series was themed Seeing is
Believing and included local and
foreign films and exhibitions
focusing on environmental issues.
The featured film on closing night
is Bitter Seeds, a US-made film
about the human cost of geneti-
cally-modified agriculture. Mark
Lyndersay saw Bitter Seeds and
explains how it urges us to con-
sider the future of how we grow
Micha X Peled's documentary
film, Bitter Seeds is a grim polemic,
but unlike such issue-driven fare,
this is a surprisingly watchable film
with a strong, compassionate heart,
calm reasoning and at its core and
the guts to acknowledge that the
problem isn't as simple as Amer-
ican industrial imperialism.
Director Peled found Telung
Takil; a village at the heart of India
in the region of Vidarbha which
the documentarian posits is ground
zero in a epidemic of farmer sui-
cides occasioned by the shame of
As the film opens, we are intro-
duced to Manjusha Ambarwar, a
sharp witted young woman whose
father, Ramdas, is identified as the
first farmer to end his life after
realising that he could never escape
the mountain of debt into which
he had inexorably slid.
Then we meet Ram Krishna
Kopulwar, a sad-eyed farmer who
doggedly ploughs his three acres
of land with two bullocks.
The man and his two animals
guide a single blade through earth
that seems indifferent to their
Ambarwar is keen to become a
journalist, not a favored job option
for a young woman in rural India.
Kopulwar's beautiful daughter,
Sawpna, is being groomed for the
preferred role---that of a wife to a
The key players are quickly set
in place, set against the harsh
beauty of the largely undeveloped
landscape of this part of India and
the essential conflict of their aspi-
rations and the unyielding reality
of their circumstances quickly
springs into sharp relief.
Peled's basic thesis in this film
is in harmony with his other doc-
umentaries on the consequences
of globalisation on communities;
Store Wars: When Wal-Mart
Comes to Town and China Blue.
The villain in Bitter Seeds is the
multinational chemical giant, Mon-
santo, whose genetically engineered
seeds have commanded the market,
sold under license as Jai BT and
many other attractive brand names
dressed in colourful packaging
adorned with photographs of flour-
ishing cotton blossoms.
In Peled's film, the genetically
modified cotton seeds from Mon-
santo are not delivering the returns
that farmers hope for and farmers
using the product are experiencing
higher than normal crop failure
Ram Krishna Kopulwar already
has a loan from the local bank and
now must turn to a money lender
for the money to pay for the seeds
for his next crop.
Monsanto's BT seeds are not
self-regenerating and must be
bought for each crop seeding, con-
tributing to the accelerating cycle
though notably not anyone from
the company itself, dispute this.
From the salesmen to the local
company creating the seeds under
license from Monsanto, they point
instead to poor financial manage-
ment by farmers and an inability
to manage the demands of the new
In the film, Vandana Shiva, an
appealingly passionate environ-
mental activist, argues that indus-
trial agriculture doesn't translate
well to the smaller acreages of
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The PIN for a smartphone can be
revealed by its camera and microphone,
researchers have warned.
Using a programme called PIN
Skimmer a team from the University of
Cambridge found that codes entered on a
number-only soft keypad could be
identified. The software watches your
face via the camera and listens to clicks
through the microphone as you type.
The tests were carried out on the
Google Nexus-S and the Galaxy S3
"We demonstrated that the camera,
usually used for conferencing or face
recognition, can be used maliciously," say
the report's authors Prof Ross Anderson
and Laurent Simon. According to the
research, the microphone is used to
detect "touch-events" as a user enters
their PIN. In effect, it can "hear" the clicks
that the phone makes as a user presses
the virtual number keys.
The camera then estimates the
orientation of the phone as the user is
doing this and "correlates it to the
position of the digit tapped by the user".
One suggestion to prevent a PIN being
identified is to use a longer number but
the researchers warn this affects
"memorability and usability".
Getting rid of passwords altogether and
using fingerprints or face recognition are
offered as more drastic solutions. (BBC)
Smartphone camera reveals PIN
A review of Bitter Seeds by Mark Lyndersay
Ram Krishna Kopulwar and his bullocks in a still from Micha X Peled's Bitter Seeds.
Manjusha Ambarwar reviews her story notes a still from Micha X Peled's Bitter Seeds.
Continues on Page A34
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