Navigating “Troubled Waters”

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Yesterday the University of Minnesota’s Bell Museum of Natural History showed two screenings of “Troubled Waters: A Mississippi River Story”, a documentary which relies on undisputed scientific facts to narrate how fertilizers used by industrial agriculture make their way into the water systems and the Mississippi River, and ultimately create a “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico.

Despite contracting the film, the University had initially blocked the release of “Troubled Waters” and held it from being broadcast Oct. 5 on Twin Cities Public Television (TPT), claiming that its narrative was based on questionable science — even as news emerged that vice president for university relations Karen Himle’s husband runs the public relations firm Himle-Horner together with Independence Party gubernatorial candidate Tom Horner. The firm represents corporate agricultural clients in Minnesota. Karen Himle was who initially pulled the plug on the movie airing on TPT tomorrow.

Following the initial screening, The UpTake spoke to director Larkin McPhee about “Troubled Waters”, the role that sustainable farming can play in protecting our water systems, and the controversy over the University’s handling of the movie. We also spoke to several panelists who spoke following the screening, including Louisiana marine scientist Nancy Rabalais, sustainable farmer Jack Hedin and the university’s director of the institute on the environment Jonathan Foley.

Jacob Wheeler

In addition to shooting videos for The UpTake, Jacob Wheeler is a contributing editor at the progressive political magazine In These Times, publishes the Glen Arbor Sun in his native Michigan, and authored "Between Light and Shadow," a recent book about the Guatemalan adoption industry. Wheeler's stories have appeared in such magazines as the Utne Reader, Earth Island Journal, Rotarian and Teaching Tolerance magazine, and newspapers including the San Francisco Chronicle and Christian Science Monitor. He speaks fluent Spanish, German and Danish.

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