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Food Evolution

Food Evolution

Scott Hamilton Kennedy, director
Black Valley Films
Visit for screening information.

Francis Nanzin is a Ugandan subsistence farmer whose crops are among the half of Uganda’s banana trees that have been wiped out by a bacterial disease known as banana wilt. In Food Evolution, narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson, Francis’s face lights up as local scientists show her the disease-resistant banana trees they have created through genetic modification. A moment later, she is crestfallen as she realizes that her family will continue to struggle until the Ugandan government declares genetically modified organisms (GMOs) legal to grow.

In Food Evolution, scientists, journalists, and farmers describe GMO success stories: the virus-resistant rainbow papaya that has revitalized Hawaii’s papaya industry and Roundup-Ready seeds that have improved crop production and decreased the use of toxic fertilizer from Missouri to South Africa. Interspersed with these interviews is footage of passionate anti-GMO activists (each pointedly identified by their nonscientific job title and credentials).

As the scientists diligently refute anti-GMO claims with data, the film explores the motivations of the parents, community leaders, and supposed environmentalists who are determined to disregard scientific consensus. Information overload, confirmation bias, the need for certainty, and fear emerge as the driving forces behind the anti-GMO movement, but the film acknowledges that most people who are wary of genetic modification likely have good intentions and goals similar to scientists: ensuring access to a safe, sustainable food supply.

The film ends with a few positive updates: Some bans such as the one in Uganda are close to being lifted, and a debate in New York City has persuaded many undecided members of the audience to support GM technology. However, the challenge of convincing people of the safety and value of GMOs remains daunting. Progress will require understanding skeptics and knowing the facts. On both counts, Food Evolution is a good place to start.

  • mem_somerville

    Every time this comes up, people ask where they can see it. One of the stars–Alison van Eenennaam–says on twitter: “coming out to theaters 6/2017, and then to video on demand (Hulu) in Fall follow & keep eye on @foodevomovie tweets”.

  • Alison Van Eenennaam

    The movie was just picked up by Abramorama and will have its U.S. theatrical premiere on June 23, 2017 at the Village East Cinemas in New York, followed by a nationwide release to select cities. A theatrical trailer is also available at the movie’s home page for those that are interested.

  • Rob Bright

    A one-sided, propaganda piece designed to promote and defend the biotech/ agrochemical industry. Unadulterated, antiscience, gibberish that takes a completely biased slant on the GMO discussion and debate.

    I see the perennial pro-GMO activists and spokespeople are already here to promote the film for their corporate masters.

  • MCR

    The main reason people doubt the safety of GMOs is that they haven’t been safety tested by unbiased researchers. GMOs are now in much the same position as tobacco was decades ago. There was ample research, over the years, “proving” that smoking didn’t cause cancer or other health problems. The only problem was, this research was funded, and influenced if not actually conducted, by the manufacturers of cigarettes. Safety research by or through those who profit from GMOs is just as worthless.

  • Sunwyn Ravenwood

    People don’t trust corporations. If corporations were people they would be sociopaths, dedicated to getting money above all else.

    Monsanto is a pesticide company. Their goal is to control the world’s food supply. They are willingly poisoning millions of people for the sake of profit.

    Remove roundup and the crops that are genetically modified to resist it from the equation and most of the opposition to gmos will vanish.