October 29 to November 24, 2013
A PORTE PAROLE PRODUCtION
BY ANNABEL SOUTAR
DIRECTED BY CHRIS ABRAHAM
Sowing the seeds of deception.
Claiming a patent on life.
This gripping, modern day David-versus-Goliath docudrama chronicles the epic legal showdown between Saskatchewan farmer Percy Schmeiser and Monsanto. The agrochemical firm accused Schmeiser of illegally growing its patented,
genetically engineered canola seeds on his farm, while he claimed they were blown in with the wind. Based on court trial transcripts and interviews, the play brings us behind the scenes through a maze of patent wars, opinionated scientists and clashes between farmers and the biotechnology industry.
When Schmeiser famously asked the question, "who owns life?" before the Supreme Court of Canada, his words galvanized the anti-GMO (genetically modified organism) movement around the world.
National treasure Eric Peterson is superb as Schmeiser.
– The Montreal Gazette
Thoroughly entertaining from beginning to end, ‘Seeds’ is a
tour de force, deftly marshalling the singular powers of the theatre
in the service of a crucial and timely civic debate.
“Seeds is great journalism, and even better theatre.”
– Montreal Gazette
Veteran television and theatre actor Eric Peterson talks about his participation in Centaur's upcoming presentation of Seeds.
By Annabel Soutar
Part courtroom drama and part social satire, Seeds presents an intelligent portrait of farming and scientific communities in conflict and at the same time penetrates the complex science of genetically modified crops. The play documents the 2004 Supreme Court of Canada showdown between Saskatchewan farmer Percy Schmeiser and biotech multinational Monsanto Inc., a David-and-Goliath struggle that cast Schmeiser as the small-farmer underdog fighting the unscrupulous major corporation. Monsanto accused him of growing their genetically patented Roundup Ready canola seeds on his property without paying the licensing fee they require. Through a suspenseful labyrinth of legal conflicts regarding patent rights, scientific showdowns about GM food and property clashes between farmers and the biotechnology industry, Seeds asks the essential question: “Can you patent a living thing?” Or as Schmeiser famously asked, “Who owns life?”
A most interesting aspect of the play is the ambiguity around the hero Percy Schmeiser. Is he a victim or an opportunist and self-publicist? Certainly, he’s no innocent; as he keeps telling us, he’s an experienced politician, in fact an ex-mayor. He’s a believer who knows how to frame his beliefs to advantage. He can be grand and he can be petty – and as such he is antihero as much as hero.
Named the top play of the decade by Rover Arts in its review of English theatre in Montreal between 2000 and 2010, Seeds takes us back to the seminal moment when a single farmer stood up to international agribusiness and almost won.
The World According to Monsanto is a 2008 film directed by Marie-Monique Robin. Duration: 1h49