Bitter Harvest (1981)

TV Movie   |  Not Rated   |    |  Drama


Bitter Harvest (1981) Poster

A farmer's herd sickens and dies, then his family and neighbors fall ill, so he bucks the state agricultural establishment as he pursues the politically explosive investigation of how his farm, family, and friends came to be poisoned.


6.8/10
242

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17 April 2012 | elgordo15
8
| "A disaster of a thousand tiny cuts"
I remember moving to Michigan in 1976 just three years after the event depicted in this movie began and the disaster was still very much a hot topic. Voices were being raised and fingers being pointed on both sides of the issue. There were people frightened of being poisoned by an insidious substance that was said to persist in the body and cause harm for the rest of one's life. On the other side were people from the government, industry, agribusiness and elsewhere claiming that there was no need to panic, that the contamination was under control, that the levels of PBB people had been exposed to were insignificant and there was no threat at all to public health. That last statement was rather hard to swallow since farmers and dairymen were losing their herds to quarantine and disposal and milk products had virtually disappeared from grocery store shelves in parts of the state. The loudest voices raised over the issue in my recollection were the farmers who were facing bankruptcy over the contamination and seen to be doing everything to hide themselves and their livelihoods from it. Mostly I remember fear, fear from the public who didn't know who to believe, fear from the agribusinesses facing career-ending losses, fear from government officials who by the time I came on the scene were scrambling in full-on cover-up mode, and, of course, the fear whipped up by the yellow media smelling blood and ratings in a juicy news story.

I thank the producers of the show for bringing it to our attention even if I only discovered this film just now 30 years after it was made and broadcast. I've wondered about the PBB contamination and what became of it but until watching this show I hadn't really ever followed up on it. After all, there was no Google in 1976, or 1981 for that matter when the film was made. I'd wondered if anyone was ever made to pay for the damage and if there was ever a tracking of people's health who were exposed. There was, on both counts, you can look it up with an internet search like I had to.

Excellently acted, excellently produced, easily watched, I'd recommend it to anyone who has ever felt as though there wasn't an adequate watchdog effort over what happens to people and the environment in the pursuit of profits.

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