SYNOPSIS

What lies behind the spread of genetically modified plants in cotton cultivation in India?
Who benefits from it? Is biotechnology really the solution for the development of Third World Countries? Who or What is Behind the Label?
India is one of the largest countries in the world, and it is the second largest producer of fibre textiles that are used by billions of men and women from all over the world for an endless variety of daily needs.
In just nine years, promising prosperity for Indian farmers, seeds produced by the multinational company Monsanto, have completely dominated the Indian cotton-growing market.

Former marketing director of Monsanto, India - Tiruvadi Jagadisan - tells us how the company first entered the Indian market in the nineties, illegally introducing seeds with a gene that sterilized local varieties, and then, from 2002, progressively reached an almost total monopoly in that market with genetically modified seeds.
Today GM cotton seeds are distributed at an inflated price to Indian companies, who pay royalties to Monsanto: seeds that originally cost 9 rupees per kilo, are now being bought for an astounding 4000 rupees by impoverished peasants. Weak and permissive local laws and regulations do the rest, leaving the farmers little choice. In the end, the most devastating consequence is for the Indian farmers, who have become more and more in debt. India, like many other producing countries in the so-called Third World, is on the threshold of a genuine agrarian crisis. This situation, caused by the carelessness of the most developed countries, particularly affects the Indian Subcontinent central states where we have witnessed a new major tragedy: In less than a decade, 216.000 farmers have committed suicide in despair and shame caused by the unbearable burden of debts for their crops. It is an ever-escalating scandal that raises new questions about inequality in this huge Country.


The uncontrolled spread of biotechnology in agriculture affects the already unstable environmental balance, which is the basis for the survival of millions of people. Earth has become sterile; new parasites, unchecked by GM seeds, multiply; animals die mysteriously after grazing near the residues of genetically modified cotton crops, and native plant varieties have disappeared. The GM seeds seem to fail more often, giving way to fields of damaged crops that need increasingly expensive chemical treatments to eradicate parasites. Hopes for prosperity are rapidly transformed into agonizing disappointment. The film, interspersed with images of the "lifecycle of cotton"-from plantations to textiles - links the testimonials about GM cotton failure with the stories of others who have gambled on a radical alternative- taking the difficult path to organically grown cotton. A path that starts with the recovery of traditional seeds to conserve biodiversity and ensure a perhaps less "miraculous, but more robust future - for millions of farmers.
Along this path, the conservation of the environment meets with acceptable social balance, with the preservation of traditional crafts such as manual weaving, and the development of sustainable agriculture for farmers. This has developed primarily from ethical reasons but could also have significant economic implications for India’s cotton production. Organic farming already accounts for more than half of global organic production and it has growing success in Western markets.
Authoritative experts in India provide the scientific commentary in the documentary. Their analysis is interwoven with the stories of the cotton-growers, all gathered in real time. Women robbed by intermediaries; children working in the fields, on the threshold of young suicide; desperate widows, and farmers misled by false promises of wellbeing. These are the unforgettable faces that tell the story of GM cotton, in an India that is still largely unknown.

THE BTL PROJECT

In a world where information is continually shared via images, videos and words, every documented moment of reality leaves a mark. What we do not see does not seem to exist. Yet it does.

Behind the label is a journey through India, in search of the hidden world that lies between the folds of cotton - the most used textile fibre in the world. But it also presents a globalization process from the perspective of those who have no access to information or privileges of any kind.

India is a country with strong economic growth, where agriculture is still the main activity for 70% of the whole population. The second most important sector of employment is the textile industry. India is, therefore, its cotton. But what kind of cotton is it? Since 2002, India has switched from native cotton varieties to genetically modified ones, and today 90% of the whole cotton production comes from seeds grown in a laboratory.

What's the impact of these crops in terms of life quality for those men, women and children who grow them?

What are the real interests of global multinationals who rule the world of cotton?

India is already the leading producer of organic cotton, which is, nowadays, just 4% of the global cotton production. Can organic cotton put its signature on the labels of our everyday clothes? Will it have the strength to spread in the global market?
In the end it is up to each and every one of us to choose what to wear, keeping in mind that if our shopping habits change, the life of millions of farmers will change for the better.

The BTL Project Goals

The intention of producing this documentary is to introduce a story that no one really knows in depth - the story of a silent attack on the cotton-farming land, with devastating consequences from an environmental as well as a social point of view. In the face of seemingly total indifference by governments, media and the world - we wanted to document what is really happening.
The overall aim is to encourage people -before they buy a shirt, a pair of jeans or any clothing made of cotton - to consider whether they might be contributing to a market that is founded on the indiscriminate use of the natural resources at our disposal - depleting them inexorably. We want to show the market - us - that 90% GM cotton production can be reduced significantly by allowing organic crops to increase up to at least 50% - for a better quality of life for all.
To do this we must induce governments to make laws to seriously protect and certify the organic textile sector, which is still left to its own fate. It is a goal towards which more and more men and women are working, with the aim of leaving a better world for future generations.

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Original score by Riccardo Cimino

Riccardo Cimino - BTL Main Theme

Riccardo Cimino was born in Rome on July 5th, 1962. He is a musician, a sound designer and a producer, working mainly for theatre, advertising and documentaries. As a producer he has collaborated with several Labels throughout the world and has been awarded Golden Records in Japan, Mexico and Canada.
Other awards to his credit include: 1994 New York International Art Director Club - Winner of 1997 Radio Campaign MEDIASTARS - Winner of 1997, 2009 and 2010 Media Key Award: Social Campaigns - Winner of 1998 and 1999 Media Key Award: Institutional Campaigns - Winner of the 30 second Ad at Italy's Advertising Awards in the year 2000 - Winner of EPICA Awards in 2010.

  • Paolo Bruno, co-producer
  • Audiovisual Producer for Italian and international market, developing projects from the first blink of an idea, through the whole production process, till the complete realization and sale. Skills for video contents fine-tuned on every kind of media or distribution: from TV, festival, theatrical and non-theatrical to web, smartphone, corporate intranet and VOD. Expertise in advanced video technology applications such as 2D and 3D graphic animation, motion capture, stereoscopy.
    Main productions with Overcom
    Art Life. The Futurism Revolution - 2010
    produced in cooperation with Marinetti's family, the docudrama portrays the revolutionary point of view of the founder of Futurism.
    Literature, painting, sculpture, music, architecture, cinema, design, advertising: each expression of creativity can and has to be Futurist.
    director Luca Verdone - screenplay Alessandro Zambrini
    International Rome Film Festival - FIFA International Festival of Films on Art Montreal
    The Universe of Keith Haring - 2007/2008
    produced in cooperation with the Keith Haring Foundation of New York, the feature length documentary explores the personal and cultural life of one of the most important and significant representatives of American pop-art from the eighties.
    director Christina Clausen
    International Rome Film Festival - FIC Brasilia International Film Festival "Special Jury Prize" - FIFA International Festival of Films on Art Montreal - Tribeca Film Festival New York
    worldwide distribution

  • Barbara Ceschi a Santacroce, producer
  • Born in Vicenza in 1958, has achieved linguistic Baccalaureate and a following degree in Art History at Christie's Fine Arts Course in London.
    Citizen of the world after graduation she moved to London, then New York and Rome where she worked on film production for several years. She moved then to Milano to work in advertising and fashion.
    From the birth of her children she made ​a difficult working choice and takes the pledge to safeguard the environment in the broadest sense of the word.
    She moved to Tuscany where she acquired significant expertise in the areas of agronomy, dealing with research and development within the EU over the chain of agro-fiber crops.

  • Fabio Colapinto, India coordinator
  • Owner of Connecting Pvt Ltd, together with partner Barbara Ceschi, he is committed on the promotion of India and its most traditional aspects through specific projects: to bring awareness about the cotton industry through tourism.
    Both believe in the possibility to support international responsible cooperation between Italy and India and are working on projects aiming to promote environmental sustainability of Mankind and its activities in harmony with Mother Earth.
    When Fabio went to India 30 years ago, he fell in love with it to the extent that he was nicknamed by the Indians themselves THE ROMAN INDIAN. A brother to many of them.

  • Cecilia Mastrantonio, co-author
  • Cecilia Mastrantonio (b. Rome, Italy, 1956) is a professional journalist specialized in environmental topics. She was editor of the monthly "Eco La nuova ecologia" for 11 years, working on numerous enquiry stories. Since 2003 she has written science, cultural, and environmental documentaries mainly for the RAI Educational and RAI 3 channels. Titles to her credit include L'Utopia della porta accanto (2005), L' Appennino bolognese: un distretto per l'energia rinnovabile (2006), Lo spirito del vento (2006), Le crepe nel G8 (2009), l’Aquila a pezzi (2010).

  • Sebastiano Tecchio, co-author, director
  • Sebastiano Tecchio, was born in Milan, Italy on April 3rd 1965. After studying film in Italy and in the United States he moved to Rome. Since 1990 he has been working in Rome as screen-play writer, editor and director. Titles to his credit include: 1960 - Actors on the Barricades (2005); Gambling Italian Style (2006); As Clear as Water (2007); The Other Olympics (2008); The Feast of Saint Anthony in Posta (2009); L'Aquila in Pieces (2010); Behind the Label (2011).

THE RESPONDENTS



A DOCUMENTARY BY

Cecilia Mastrantonio
Sebastiano Tecchio

PRODUCED BY

Barbara Ceschi a Santa Croce

EDITED AND DIRECTED BY

Sebastiano Tecchio

STORY OUTLINE

Cecilia Mastrantonio

EXECUTIVE PRODUCTION

Mihir Desai
Abhishek Varma

INDIA COORDINATOR

Fabio Colapinto
Connecting Srl

CINEMATOGRAPHY

Sandro Bartolozzi

MUSIC

Riccardo Cimino

SOUND DESIGN

Claudio Bresciani
SUONI s.r.l.

EXTRA FOOTAGE

Mihir Desai
Avinash Gowda

VISUAL EFFECTS

Cinzia Sarto

COLOURIST

Andrea Fara
Video Master Service Srl

ASSISTANT COLOURIST

Roberta Etorri

STILL PHOTOGRAPHER

Isabella Greppi

WOMAN DRESSING

Erika Josè Cannata

NARRATING VOICE

Sebastiano Tecchio

TRANSLATIONS

Avinash Kamath
Sumit Prohit
Margherita Barrera

ADMINISTRATION

Arianna Gaudino
Elisa De Polo

DRIVERS

Mr. Kiran .B
Mr. S.R. Prakash
Mr. Suresh Thaygi
Mr. R. Mohan

SPECIAL THANKS

Mr. M. Chinnaswami
Mrs. Manorama Chinnaswami

Mr. Bharat Desai
Mrs. Nita Desai

Mr. Chikka Babu
Mr. Brahmananad Hedge  Vistaar
Mrs. Savita Gajanand Chavan
Mr. G. Chandrashekhar
Mr. N. Chandrasheker
Mr. Cheluvaraj
Mr. William D'Souza
Mr. Kanta Kantabai
Mr. Gaosang Kaushik
Mr. Ramakhant Kaushik
Mr. T. Mohanraj & Family
Mr. N. Nandagopal & Family
Mr. Vinod Paehkone
Mr. K. C. Raghu - Pristine Organics
Mrs. Sagari Ramdas - Anthra 4
Mr. K.R. Ram Shetty
Mr. Ramesh Sakharkar & Family
Mr. Kishor Tiwari
Mr. Nagaraje Ur

Mr. Ramaraju Dandu
Mr. Ajay Vir Jakhar
Mrs. Seema Javed - Greenpeace India
Mr. Ashish Jain
Mr. Shriram Kalaspurkar
Mr. Rahul Mishra
Mrs. Divya Bhatt Mishra
Mrs. Panchavarnam
Mr. G.T. Satish
Mr. Chaman Sharma

Mr. K.V. Srinivasan - Premier Mills
Orange County Resorts - Kabini
Windflower Resorts - Mysore
Urban Oasis Service Apartments - Mysore
Mr. Parekh Bhai - Indrani Silks and Sarees
Mr. Amog Javagal - Pushpak Travel Agents
Rockline Productions

SKS Appachi Eco-Logic Project Team
Green Foundation
Myrada Ngo
Navdanya
Pollachi Nachiar School Staff & Students
Sahyog Trust, Yavatmal
Vidharba Organic Farmers Ass.
Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti

Italian Embassy in New Dehli

Paolo Buggiani
Marilena Vallino

Thursday, February 16, 2012
at 7:30pm at BIOFACH

WORLDWIDE PREVIEW OF THE DOCUMENTARY

at Künstlerhaus K4 / Festsaal
Königstraße 93
Nürnberg

Free admittance

Download the invitation



Sunday May 27 2012
at 2.30 pm
in Florence - Italy, at TERRA FUTURA

FIRST NATIONAL SCREENING AND DISCUSSION

Fortezza da Basso - CineTeatro alle Grotte




Monday May 28 2012
at 6.30 pm
in Vicenza - Italy

SCREENING AND DISCUSSION

Cinema Odeon
Corso Palladio 186
Free admittance




Thursday June 21 2012
at 11.30 pm

SCREENING OF THE DOCUMENTARY

at FESTAMBIENTE, Vicenza - Italy
Parco del fiume Retrone
Via Malvezzi, Vicenza


Sunday June 24 2012
at 6.30 pm

CONFERENCE AND DISCUSSION

at FESTAMBIENTE, Vicenza - Italy
Parco del fiume Retrone
Via Malvezzi, Vicenza

Thursday September 20 2012
at 2.00 pm

SCREENING

In Venice - Italy, at International conference on degrowth, ecological sustainability and social equity
Cinema Teatro dei Frari,
Santa Croce n. 3072

Friday September 21 2012
7.00 pm- 9.00 pm

SCREENING AND DISCUSSION

In Milan, at the critical fashion event "So Critical so fashion"
with: Sebastiano Tecchio, author and director; Cecilia Mastrantonio, author; Adriana Mulassano, fashion journalist.

sala Carroponte
Frigoriferi Milanesi
via Piranesi 10 - Milano.

Tuesday November 20 2012
at 4.30 pm
Venezia, Università di Ca’ Foscari presents

SCREENING AND CONFERENCE

With:
Marcello Buiatti, Università degli Studi di Firenze
Stefano Beggiora, Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia
Marco Zolli, Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia
Barbara Ceschi a Santacroce, Producer
Cecilia Mastrantonio, Author
Sebastiano Tecchio, Author and Director

Auditorium Santa Margherita
Dorsoduro 3689, Venezia
Free admittance

PRESS CONFERENCE
Thursday, February 16, 2012
at 4:00pm at BIOFACH
Followed by a screening at 7:30pm
at Künstlerhaus K4 / Festsaal
Königstraße 93
Nürnberg
Free admittance

Download the press release

CONTACTS

Barbara Ceschi a Santacroce
e-mail: b.ceschi@yahoo.it