Napa’s latest activist has a benefit over a lot of his predecessors: he has a video camera.
© iStock|Making use of Roundup in vineyards is a frequently unmentioned concern in wine making circles.
Documentary filmmaker Brian Lilla states he moved from Oakland, California to Napa to avoid weapon violence, due to the fact that he and his spouse wished to have kids. Once there, he found grapegrowers spraying Roundup on their vines and it interrupted him enough to make a film about it.
“Children of the Vines,” in spite of the title and the Napa setting, isn’t really a red wine motion picture. Instead, it is an extremely reliable scary documentary about the omnipresence and danger of Roundup and its active component glyphosate.
It’s just 83 minutes long. My partner was operating in the next room while I saw it; English isn’t her first language and I didn’t think she was taking note at all. But as quickly as it completed, she came out and said: “We have to stop purchasing non-organic vegetables.” It’s that effective.
Lilla showed the film last week in a complimentary screening at Cross Stroll Community Church in Napa. Afterwards there was a panel discussion consisting of Spottswoode winemaker/vineyard supervisor Aron Weinkauf and a wine buyer for Dry Farm Wines, a site that sells just organically grown white wines.
“There was an extremely in-depth discussion of Napa Green, and is it actually green,” Lilla told Wine-Searcher.
In fact, Napa Green is a regional “sustainability” program that enables growers to utilize Roundup. The movie shows that those grapegrowers lag the times, as the city of Napa has actually banned Roundup on city residential or commercial property, as has Sonoma County. If any Napa Green growers watch the movie, they may have second thoughts.
“When we had a screening in Sebastopol, a guy approached me and stated: ‘Thank you for revealing this,'” Lilla stated. “He said: ‘I have vineyards around Healdsburg.’ I said: ‘What did you believe?’ He stated: ‘I believe I require to stop utilizing Roundup.'”
The evidence Lilla puts together in the movie is disturbing. Roundup use is so commonplace in the US, both in agriculture and for house gardening and yard maintenance, that 75 percent of the rain in the United States consists of glyphosate, according to the film. The USDA found glyphosate in natural honey, oatmeal and child food. Lilla stated it’s so popular in the wheat industry that farmers now use Roundup on the crop right before harvest.
Roundup is not just an US concern. The World Health Company has classified it as a “probable carcinogen”. Glyphosate has actually been or is scheduled to be banned in Germany, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam.
2 frightening points that the movie makes are that glyphosate can develop in the body over time, and that the other ingredients in Roundup, notably surfactants that make it much easier to absorb, make glyphosate more hazardous than when it is evaluated by itself.
A groundskeeper called Dewayne “Lee” Johnson sued Monsanto, makers of Roundup, after he established non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a deadly form of cancer, and won $289 million from a jury in 2018. The award was reduced to $21 million after a number of appeals by Monsanto.
Bayer bought Monsanto in 2018 for $63 billion. One would believe that countless other suits regarding Roundup would be a liability, but in the film, Lilla claims Bayer now makes more than $12 billion a year from Roundup alone. In 2020, Bayer agreed to a $10.9 billion settlement that it said would give closure about 75 percent of 125,000 claims.
Lilla does talk to Littorai wine maker Ted Lemon about organic farming.
“If there’s one canary in the coal mine, it’s that (glyphosate is) being found in natural wine,” Lemon says.
But wine is really just a framing device in the movie. Lilla says in the start of the film that he could not get any conventional grapegrowers in Napa to consent to appear on camera (this does not surprise me), so he went to Missouri and found farmers who would discuss it. At least one is still a passionate proponent, arguing that the American food system requires it. However another, who utilized Roundup for 40 years because he thought it was safe, got non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
“I live in Napa and I found the entire thing about Roundup use in the vineyards by riding my bike out there,” Lilla informed Wine-Searcher. “I believed I was living in this agrarian, gorgeous, farming area. Then when I pulled the veil back on it, it was, oh shit, this place is hazardous. When I made the movie, I didn’t want to put a shiner on Napa or on the red wine market, due to the fact that it’s not just about the red wine market. It’s in our water. It’s in our playgrounds. This is everywhere. And I understood this was the story I wished to inform.”
There is a heroine in the movie: Kim Konte, a former advertising executive-turned-housewife in Irvine, CA who challenged her city’s usage of Roundup in its parks and playgrounds. Konte got Irvine to ban its use on city-owned properties and consequently founded a company called Non-Toxic Areas that has dealt with more than 200 cities to prohibit Roundup.
“It’s not almost the wine market,” Lilla said. “It’s about getting residential or commercial property management companies to stop using it in hotels and other residential or commercial properties. Our last screening of the year is on Dec. 14 on Vashon Island in Washington. That’s being placed on by an equestrian center that is worried about the impacts of Roundup on horses.”
“Children of the Vine” may not actually be a thorn in Napa’s side, however for Lilla’s next project, he’s working on a series about its struggling Clover Flat Landfill called “Garbage and Greed: Napa Valley.”
Napa has a brand-new ecological activist, and he brings an electronic camera.
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