Gustavo Vazquez KEEPER OF CORN

Indigenous artisans, cooks and farmers tell us this story (in Spanish and in their own languages) about the origins of indigenous corn and how their ancestors have guided the evolution of seeds from the dawn of agriculture to the 21st century; a collective effort that spans more than 350 generations.

To their voices are added those of community leaders, scientists, cooks and many others whose knowledge and activism are committed not only to the defense of food sovereignty and genetic integrity, diversity and the collective property of indigenous seeds, but also for the defense of an enduring cultural legacy and way of life.

Filmmaker and Chair of the FIlm & Digital Media Department at UC Santa Cruz , Gustavo Vazquez, brings us to Oaxaca to experience the wisdom of various indigenous communities, as they explain that “Corn was not domesticated by man – Man was domesticated by corn.”

Professors Ignacio Chapela (UC Berkeley) and Alan Bennett (UC Davis) discuss the merits and dangers of genetically modified organisms, and the characteristics of different landraces of corn that have co-evolved with the people of Oaxaca – continuing co-evolution vs. exploitation for patenting and profit.

Susana Harp, Senator from Oaxaca, works to protect the heritage and health of her region, and to respect the validity of their approach. “Corn & its surrounding rituals are tied to the cosmology of the indigenous people – by extension, the essence of being Mexican, linking our lives to corn.”