The Untold Story

  • BY Taggart Siegel and Jon Betz | IN Food
    Premiered April 17, 2017

About the Film

Worshiped and treasured since the dawn of humankind, few things on Earth are as miraculous and vital as seeds. SEED: The Untold Story follows passionate seed keepers intent on protecting our 12,000 year-old food legacy.

In the last century, 94% of our seed varieties have disappeared. This once abundant seed diversity — painstakingly created by ancient farmers and gardeners over countless millennia — has been drastically winnowed down to a handful of mass-produced varieties. Under the spell of industrial "progress" and corporate profits, family farmsteads have given way to mechanized agribusinesses sowing genetically identical crops on a massive scale. But without seed diversity, crop diseases rise and empires fall. MORE

More than a cautionary tale of "man against nature," SEED reveals the work of farmers, scientists, lawyers, and indigenous seed keepers who are fighting a David versus Goliath battle to defend the future of our food. In a story both harrowing and heartening, we meet a wide variety of reluctant heroes working to rekindle a lost connection to our most treasured resource, from the pueblos of New Mexico to a seed bunker in Norway, from India to America’s heartland, from Peru to Hawaii. Among the dozens of people featured are Will Bonsall of the Scatterseed Project, Dr. Jane Goodall, environmental lawyer Claire Hope Cummings, ethnobotanist Gary Paul Nabhan, botanical explorer Joseph Simcox, Andrew Kimbrell of the Center for Food Safety, and physicist/activist Dr. Vandana Shiva.

SEED explores the hidden fabric of our food and the people that painstakingly and meticulously curate its diversity, in an era of climate uncertainty and immense corporate power.

Taggart Siegel has produced and directed Emmy-nominated, award-winning documentaries including Queen of the Sun: What are the Bees Telling Us? and The Real Dirt on Farmer John (Independent Lens). Both received critical acclaim during their theatrical release and garnered over 40 international awards. Siegel is a Fledgling Outreach and Engagement Lab Fellow and was selected to pitch at Britdoc’s GoodPitch for SEED: The Untold Story. His previous PBS films include Split Horn (Independent Lens), Between Two Worlds, Blue Collar and Buddha and Heart Broken in Half. Collectively, they capture the struggle of refugees and immigrants in America. He produced the National Geographic film Disenchanted Forest about orangutans in Borneo. Taggart is the founder and Executive Director of Collective Eye Films, a nonprofit media production and distribution organization based in Portland, Oregon.

Jon Betz is an award-winning independent documentary filmmaker. He was the producer and editor for Queen of the Sun: What Are the Bees Telling Us? (2010). His previous film, Memorize You Saw It (2008), journals his experience as an aid worker living with former child soldiers in Eastern Uganda. Betz is a Fledgling Outreach and Engagement Lab Fellow, a Britdoc GoodPitch alumni and a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design. He is the director of Collective Eye Films. LESS

Film Credits

Directed, Produced and Edited by
Jon Betz & Taggart Siegel

Executive Producers
Marc Turtletaub, Phil Fairclough

Taggart Siegel

Associate Producers
Darby Crouss
Jenny Siegel

Featuring (In Order of Appearance)
Sara Mapelli
Will Bonsall
Gary Paul Nabhan
Ignacio Chapela
Rowen White
Bill McDorman
Louie Hena
Emigdio Ballon
Claire Hope Cummings
Clayton Brascoupe
Leigh Kuwanwisiwma
Jane Goodall
Dennis Klocek
Joseph Simcox
Patrick Simcox
Matthew Dillon
Andrew Kimbrell
Raj Patel
Vandana Shiva
Tyrone Hayes
Dustin Barca
Malia Chun
Howard Hurst
Jeffrey Smith
Fred Justesen
George Kimbrell
Senator Jon Tester
Suman Khulko
Suman's Brother
Suman's Aunt
Councilman Gary L. Hooser
Magdeleno Rose Avila
Paul Massey

Drew Christie
Dylan Tull Gunnett
Eric Lahey
Sihanouk Mariona
Hayley Morris
Corrie Francis Parks
Chris Rodgers
Alyssa Timon

Original Music by
Garth Stevenson

Additional Original Music
by Benjy Wertheimer, Martin Watkinson
Cherita Meadows
Alantl Molina
Omiza River

Post-Production Sound
Digital One, Portland

Sound Design & Mix
Eric Stolberg

Additional Sound Design
Reed Harvey
Ryan Mauk

John Davidson

First Assistant Editor
Elizabeth Weissenborn

Assistant Editor
Patrick Gilmore
Melissa Luna
Shannon Breen

Additional Editing
Luz Carasa

Producer, India
Thomas Marcus George

Story Consultant
Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee

Additional Story Consultant
Megan Stahlnecker Betz
Jenny Siegel

Location Camera
Abhishek Madhukar
Jean Lupcha
Anthony Rodriguez

Additional Camera
Rana Segal
Gerard Smyth
Eric Cannon
Mark Morrison
Sam Kapoi
Sarita Siegel
Darryl Czuchra
Reinhard Lorenz
Ruth Somalo
Dominic Mann
Kirill Oleynikov

Location Sound
Jon Betz

Archival Materials Courtesy of
Banco de México Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, México, D.F./Artists Rights Society (ARS)
Tom Banwell
Bishop Museum Archives
Boston Public Library
Bridgeman Images
Buy Out Footage
Critical Past
Daniel Csobot
David de los Santos
Tom Deiters
F.I.L.M Archives, Inc.
Getty Images
Ho'ike Kaua'i Community TV
Internet Archive
Hilbert Kamphuisen
Miller Center at University of Virginia
Sean Munger
My Footage
National Archives Motion Pictures
NHNZ Moving Images
N.I. Vavilov Research Institute of Plant Industry
Sandy McLeod
Mike Pearce
John Peterson
Rockefeller Archive Center
Peg Skorpinski
Studio Dus
Roddy Tabatabai
Mari Tefre
Jim Uran
Bertram Verhaag
Walmer Convenience
Wikimedia Commons

"Cajongo" and "Miracle"
Written & Performed by
Martin Watkinson & Cherita Meadows

"Air," "Free," "Freedom," "Ginko" and "The Original Botanist"
Martin Watkinson
Written by Martin Watkinson & Cherita Meadows
Performed by Martin Watkinson

"Crane Dance"
Coyote Oldman
Written & Performed by
Michael Graham Allen & Michael Fitzsimmons
Courtesy of Tears of the Moon Music BMI

"Call to Prayer"
Written & Performed by Golana´
digitalpressure/Oginali Productions

"Flying,""Grandfather," Dawn,""Earth," "Flux" and "Hourglass"
Garth Stevenson
Written & Performed by Garth Stevenson
Garth Stevenson Music

"Holy Ma"
Written and Performed by
Benjy Wertheimer & Heather Wertheimer
Wolf Cub Music

"Snowshoe" and "Inward"
Jimmy Be Free
Written & Performed by Jimmy Be Free

"River of Stars"
Coyote Oldman
Written & Performed by
Michael Graham Allen & Barry Stramp
Coyote Oldman Music
Courtesy of Xenotrope Music BMI

"Tabla Breath" and "One River"
Benjy Wertheimer & John de Kadt
Written & Performed by
Benjy Wertheimer & John de Kadt

"Radiance” and "Angel’s Breath"
Benjy Wertheimer & David Michael
Written & Performed by
Benjy Wertheimer & David Michael
Wolf Cub Music

"A Love Song for Humanity," "Begin Again" and "Dancing with Tinkerbell"
Jami Sieber
Written & Performed by Jami Sieber
Courtesy of Out Front Music

“Across the Valley” and “Inner Flight”
Dean Eveson & Scott Huckabay
Written & Performed by Dean Evenson
Dudley Eveson & Scott Huckabay
Soundings of the Planet

Special Thanks
Hopi Nation
Tesuque Pueblo

Dedicated to seed keepers & organizations around the world helping protect Non-GMO, open pollinated seeds

Produced with the participation of the Indigenous Oregon Production Investment Fund (iOPIF) of the Oregon Governor’s Office of Film & Television.

Funding Provided by
Kalliopeia Foundation
The Salvia Foundation
AFI-Discovery SilverDocs / Whole Foods Green Grant
Dobkin Family Foundation
The Fledgling Fund
Patagonia Environmental Grant
The Filmmaker Fund
Clarence and Anne Dillon Dunwalke Trust
Stephen Rivard and Christine Jett-Rivard
Clif Bar Family Foundation
Margaret Hecht
And others. A complete list available from PBS.

SEED: The Untold Story was produced by Collective Eye, Inc. which is solely responsible for its content.

© 2016 Collective Eye, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Were you aware of the endangerment of seed varieties before you saw this film? What else do you think can and should be done to protect seeds? Are you personally worried about GMOs in our crops and food, or do you think some of it is overblown?


  • Sheffield Doc Fest
    Environmental Award
  • Nashville Film Festival
    Documentary Grand Jury Prize
Please review our comment guidelines.
Were you aware of the endangerment of seed varieties before you saw this film? What else do you think can and should be done to protect seeds? Are you personally worried about GMOs in our crops and food, or do you think some of it is overblown?