Jos Jansen; Seeds. On the Origin of Food Crops, 2014
In Seeds documentary photographer Jos Jansen examines how new, innovative food crops are developed and how this bears upon the world food problem. His point of departure is ‘seed’, the beginning of all life. What fascinates him is the duality of the process: on the one hand, the romanticism of the earthly and tactile and, on the other hand, the rationality of contemporary biotechnology. Jansen focuses his narrative on how new food crops are bred that are resistant to pests and diseases, and can therefore contribute significantly to our future food supply. He shows for example how disease-causing insects are released among the plants. As a result, the vast majority of plants become ill. However, there will sometimes be at least one healthy plant with just that tiny bit of DNA that allows it to be the sole plant to survive.
Behind the images quintessential questions arise. Who is actually in charge on this planet? Nature? Human beings? A god? Should humans stop interfering with evolution and go back to the authenticity and the idyll of small-scale farms and city farming? Or rather, is it humanity’s duty to steer evolution so that we can create enough food to feed the booming world population? Where do you draw the line between acceptable and unacceptable? Between natural and unnatural?
And what does ‘natural’ mean anyway?