OVID.tv Presents CIRCLE OF POISON Review — The Fight for People Over Profit

Dappled sunlight filters through rows of corn. Birds chirp in the background as we see flowers grow from the rich soil. This very soil, an unidentified voice says, “represents the dust of our ancestors” and to contaminate it is “unforgivable sin”. 

The voice, we soon discover, belongs to David Weir, a journalist who coined the phrase Circle of Poison in his book that investigates the export of harmful pesticides to countries outside of the United States. This documentary of the same name, Circle of Poison, explores how the countries who import these pesticides spray the chemicals on crops before exporting them back to the United States, thus creating a circle. 

The film jumps from narrative to narrative, as well as country to country. We see footage from news casters, from as early as 1991, discussing the possibility of a law that bans the export of dangerous pesticides. They imply that this law did not pass, and the audience understands that this issue is not new, nor is it uninvestigated. None other than former president Jimmy Carter appears on the screen, recounting his own efforts while in office to ban the export of toxic chemicals. The absence of those that refused interviews is palpable. These individuals, of course, are those involved in big agribusiness companies — the companies responsible for perpetuating the manufacture and export of toxic pesticides. 

OVID.tv’s CIRCLE OF POISON Reveals the Consequences of Pesticides

What cements the severity of this issue further is the first hand accounts of those most affected by the poison in pesticides that the United States exports. The documentary makers travel to India and Argentina to collect interviews from families and individuals that have faced devastating health consequences, including death from pesticide exposure. Heart wrenching footage of bone deformities and the crippling effects of the poisons on the brain prove the testimonies of the interviewees throughout the film. 

The footage outside of America is not only focused on the tragic stories of those most harmed by pesticides — it shows success stories, too. In Argentina, we learn of an advocacy organization that has gained traction over the years to fight against the use of pesticides around their local neighborhood. In Bhutan, we hear of top down efforts to make the country the first 100% organic country in the world. Back on American soil, the familiar image of protesters in New York, holding up signs like “Greed Kills” and “People Over Profit” show that the effort to quell the production of toxic pesticides at its source is very much alive. 

This film utilizes narrative frames to aid in simplifying the chronological order of events, paired with graphic depictions that break down some of the more scientific facts and metrics. However, the science-based evidence is only a compliment to the stars of the show — the real world victims, journalists, scientists and politicians who are advocating for a fairer, healthier world. 

In this writer’s opinion, this documentary will resonate with those who hold a keen interest in environmental and food justice issues, as well as those who wish to learn more on the subject. Younger children may have difficulty following the scientific explanations and may find some images of the health consequences of toxic exposure disturbing, thus parental supervision is recommended. 


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Director Evan Mascagni
Director Shannon Post 


Jimmy Carter
Elizabeth Kucinich
Noam Chomskz
Vandana Shiva
The Dalai Lama

To watch the film, visit the OVID.tv page for CIRCLE OF POISON 

Images courtesy of OVID.tv

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