In the summer of 2004, Canadian health researchers made a startling discovery in the Chippewa birth records for the city of Sarnia, an hour north of Detroit: for the past decade, female babies had been outnumbering male babies at a rate of 2:1. Further investigation revealed large numbers of miscarriages, a cluster of reproductive cancers in young women, and widespread neurological problems among the band's children.
The Beloved Community looks at a Great Lakes oil town facing a toxic legacy head-on. The nerve center of Canada's petrochemical industry, Sarnia once enjoyed the highest standard of living in the country, but now the bill has come due, in a compromised environment and a devastating community health crisis. The city has already lost a generation of men to workplace-related cancers. Now their widows and daughters are discovering a reproductive time-bomb; because of their own exposure to a cluster of hormone-mimicking chemicals called "endocrine disruptors," the next generation may be at risk. How do you stay in the home you love when the price you pay may be not only your own life, but the safety of your children?
The impact of endocrine disruptors on the reproductive health of wildlife is well-known, but the birth situation in Sarnia has never been seen in a human population, exposed on a daily basis to industrial pollutants. As these chemicals are in global use in everything from pesticides to dry cleaning fluid, the situation in Sarnia cannot be ignored by anyone concerned about the environment and health of his own community.
As the corporations and government have proven unwilling or incapable of providing a solution, the community of Sarnia has been forced to take matters into its own hands. Women who have never thought of themselves as "scientists" are now going door to door, collecting health data from their neighbors in a search for answers. They are demanding a voice in the running of their own community from the complex of giant multinationals: Dow, Shell, DuPont, Imperial Oil, Suncor, Nova, Bayer, and dozens of others who have set the city's course until now. Rather than abandoning a place that's been called a "slow motion Bhopal," or trying to shut down the plants, they are pressing for answers that can close the books on the past and reclaim the future.
"The Beloved Community puts a human face on the statistics behind endocrine disruptors. We would be foolish to ignore the warnings of this important film. The future of our children and grandchildren is at stake." - Devra Davis, PhD, National Book Award Winner and Author of Secret History of the War on Cancer "This eloquent film about a vulnerable community, terribly impacted by industrial toxins is a 'must see' for anyone concerned about environmental justice." - Shanna Swan, PhD, Environmental Scientist and Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology, University of Rochester School of Medicine "Brings into focus the stark reality of pollution juxtaposed against the cultural fabric of a strong tribal community that is struggling to come to terms with the environmental health problems and solve them in creative new ways. The subject itself- oil pollution- is the most global chemical pollution problem we face. This film is important for everyone to see, especially those who are not yet convinced that fossil fuels are harmful to our planet and its people." - Kathleen Burns, sciencecorps.org
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