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    King Corn: I Ask, They Answer

    At the recent screening of King Corn I attended, three of the people involved with the documentary (the editor, director, and one of the two creators) held a question and answer session with the audience.

    Armed with my trusty notebook, I raised my hand. My question — and their answer — follows.

    ME: “[In the film, we don’t see any organic farming.] Did you come across any farmers [in Iowa] who grew organic crops? How do some of the farmers you spoke to feel about using pesticides on their crops? Do you know of any physical side effects from using these chemicals?

    KING CORN “CAST”: We absolutely saw a lot of people doing organic farming. We shot 500 hours of film and had to condense it to 82 minutes, so you can imagine all that was left out.

    Actually, what we call “organic” here in a place like New York City isn’t a novel concept to a lot of farmers. To them, that’s just normal “farming.”

    The issue of pesticides and chemicals used in farming is of huge concern to us. I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but there is a 60 mile “dead” zone in the Gulf of Mexico where the water is completely deprived of oxygen.

    No life can grow or live there, and it’s because of runoff — waste water and fertilizer runoff — that travels down from farms in the Midwest. It’s terrible what these agricultural chemicals do.

    The impact goes beyond the immediate area around the farm, or even whoever ends up eating whatever is grown on that farm.

    From our research, it seemed that many of the women who farmed and were exposed to some pesticides and chemicals developed Non-Hodgkins lymphoma. This stuff can’t be good for you if you are literally surrounded by it every day.

    By the way, there’ s a great organization called the Practical Farmers of Iowa. They’re doing some really great stuff. They want to help farmers transition towards diversifying their crops and make them more profitable, and they are also interested in ecological preservation and keeping farming as an earth-friendly practice.

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