Most people don’t realize that genetically engineered foods have quietly slipped into much of the North American food supply.
The Future of Food, a chilling documentary created by Deborah Koons Garcia, uses archival footage and interviews with farmers and agriculture experts to argue that GMO foods are jeopardizing our food safety.
At first, Garcia thought about doing a film on pesticides. But her research led her to the genetic revolution of agriculture. Biotech breakthroughs allowed the gene-splicing of plants from different species or even plants and animals to create crops that resist disease or can withstand pesticides, even the “terminator” gene that kills off crop seeds after one season.
“It became clear that GMOs are really a much bigger issue.” That is, corporate control of the food system and the patenting of life.
She sets her stage with nostalgic, black-and-white shots of traditional farming, before the “green revolution” of fertilizers, chemical pest-killers and mono-cropping grew out of World War II weapons research. Agriculture became industry, and then recombinant DNA technology upped the ante in the 1990s. Chemical companies like Monsanto created Roundup Ready canola, and Bt corn with a spliced-in gene that makes its own insecticide. The chemical companies succeeded in first patenting their own GMO seeds, and then slapped patents on a huge number of crop seeds, patenting life forms for the first time without a vote of the people or Congress.
Garcia tells the David-versus-Goliath story of Saskatchewan grain farmer Percy Schmeiser. He’s one of hundreds of grain farmers sued by Monsanto after the company’s Roundup Ready canola drifted into his field. He fought the suit where many other farmers settled, but lost, and must pay Monsanto to plant his next crop from his own seed.
Ultimately, the film is a call to action — for people to think more about the consequences of their food choices and to use their consumer power to push for labeling and regulation. Labeling might just drive GMO foods off the market, as it has in Europe.
“Someone needed to make this film, because if this technology isn’t challenged and if this corporatization of our whole food system isn’t stopped, at some point it will be too late.”
There are seven parts to this film. Watch them all.
Check out Greenpeace’s handy guide to help you avoid GM ingredients.