Arts & Entertainment

Movie review: 'Farmageddon'

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Kristin Canty's "Farmageddon" is well-titled. It's an eye-popping wake-up call revealing how the USDA and FDA have increasingly waged war on America's small farmers even when they can prove they are contributing healthful products to our food supply.

The farmers and organic food proprietors have been subjected to outrageous harassments and seizures that escalate into outright terrorism over some violation, often minor, of the myriad regulations that engulf the producers and seem designed primarily to drive them out of business.

Perhaps the worst of the cases that Canty investigates is that of a Vermont couple who owned 28 sheep, imported from New Zealand and worth $5,000 apiece, who had their healthy herd confiscated and executed -- even though it could have been proved that they were in fact not infected with mad cow disease.

In interviewing farmers and agricultural experts on all sides of the issue, Canty suggests persuasively that corporate agriculture can exert tremendous political pressure on governmental regulation agencies to the disadvantage of the small farmers, even though diseases in the food supply chain occur almost always within big industry.

All of the small farmers interviewed in the film are clearly dedicated and responsible. Yet it's unfortunate that Canty, so effective a rabble-rouser, didn't spend more time with her most detached interviewee, David Acheson, a food-safety consultant and a former FDA food safety chief, who takes a broad overview.

It would have been good to know more specifically his ideas on solutions to protecting small farmers' rights and the right of the public to have access to healthful food, whether it comes from the supermarket or the small farm.

"Farmageddon." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes. At Laemmle's Monica 4-Plex, Santa Monica.

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