What's in the Troubled Waters film

Twin Cities Daily Planet reporter Molly Priesmeyer on Monday viewed Troubled Waters, the environmental film that has been mysteriously yanked by the University of Minnesota at the last minute.

The U has said that the film was delayed out of concern that it might not be up to snuff scientifically. Meanwhile, some ag deans have said that it was unbalanced and made agriculture look bad.

Priesmeyer’s basic take:

Rather than “vilifying agriculture,” it seemed that filmmakers took extra steps to show that farmers are providing real solutions for halting the deterioration of the Mississippi and the resulting dead zone.

And that, she writes, should fit well with the mission of the U’s ag department.

The film, however, does find fault with the federal government:

The film takes a strong stance on federal agricultural policy-in particular, the use of payments to support high yields of commodity crops such as soybeans and corn for production of ethanol. It faults federal policy for contributing to the water pollution that has resulted as farmers use nitrogen and phosphorous fertilizer to increase yields. The film cites a 2007 federal mandate that called for 15 billion gallons of ethanol to be produced by 2022.

She said the film offers an intriguing glimpse into how political interests, the need for fuel, and emphasis on grain production have played a major role in environmental issues that detrimentally affect Lake Pepin, the Mississippi, and the Gulf.”

By the way, the University doesn’t own the film, she writes. And the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR), the legislative body that oversees the money for the project, says the film does meet its standards — even though the U said it pulled the project out of concern that it didn’t.

You can read her article here.