Episode from the ISU Documentary "Seeds! Diversity of Wonder" Featured in World Food Prize "Faces of Hunger Film Festival"

AMES, Iowa –  The Faces of Hunger Film Festival at the World Food Prize will feature one episode of a six-part film produced by the Iowa State University (ISU) Seed Science Center (SSC).  “Let Seed be Thy Medicine” will be screened on Friday, October 16 at 3 p.m.  This episode, from Seeds! Diversity of Wonder,  takes the viewer to Zambia where white maize is eaten in every meal.  But while it grows well in the region, it lacks the key nutrient, vitamin A.  A deficiency of this essential nutrient has left over half the population with  weak immune systems, stunted growth, and night blindness.  This has led scientists to explore how breeding this vitamin into the seed used by the Zambians could help end what is known as “hidden hunger.”

The annual Faces of Hunger Film Festival, facilitated by New York City based non-profit Palms for Life, is dedicated to exploring food security, health and waste issues.  Organizers say over one billion people suffer from starvation and undernourishment worldwide and claims conflict is a major driver of hunger.  The executive producer of Seeds! Diversity of Wonder agrees that ending hunger will lead to a more peaceful world.

“Food insecurity and malnutrition are two grand challenges of our time.” said Manjit Misra, Director of the ISU-SSC and film executive producer. “We must help communities feed themselves.  We have a better chance for enduring peace when people have adequate, safe and nutritious food to support a healthy and productive life.”

The Palms for Life mission is to advocate for and support the creation of infrastructure that provides access to education, food, water and sanitation for vulnerable communities throughout Africa, Latin America and Asia. In 2009, Palms for Life launched the Faces of Hunger film contest in which young filmmakers were invited to reveal the nature of hunger in their communities.  

“Palms for Life’s mission is to bring the needs of the poor and hungry onto everyone’s radar screen because it’s everyone’s business if any child in this world goes to bed on a hungry stomach,” said Hannah Laufer-Rottman, Palms for Life’s Founder.   

The ISU-SSC has a similar goal and has worked in over 70 countries around the globe to help expand farmers’ access to quality seed, facilitate seed trade, and promote the growth of national seed industries.   Misra said he produced this film because he knows seed technology affects so many issues of global importance, such as food, nutrition, energy security, and safety.

“From eastern Iowa to East Africa, farmers must plant good quality seeds if we want to improve security and safety, especially in light of climate change,” said Misra.

This award-winning documentary, produced by Pierce Mill Media, made its debut in last year, at the Environmental Film Festival in Washington, D.C., to a sold-out auditorium and has won several national awards since. The film takes viewers from the ISU campus and Iowa farms to locales as far away as India and Africa.  Comprised of six segments of roughly 10 minutes each, the film can be viewed separately or as a single, hourlong presentation. The segments cover a range of seed-related topics, including the role seeds play in everyday life, how seed technology can lead to more nutritious food, and how the genetic material contained in seeds is stored in a global network of seed banks.

You can view the film at seeds.iastate.edu