In efforts to communicate research to consumers, part of the scientific community and filmmakers worked together to help inform the public with fact-based dialogue about genetically modified organisms in our food system.
Food Evolution is a documentary working to reset the conversation around GMO’s. Scott Hamilton Kennedy, the director of the project says the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) reached out looking for filmmakers to take on the documentary. IFT is a non-profit, scientific society that publishes peer-reviewed scientific journals and consists of over 17,000 food scientists. They wanted to consumers to see more about the controversial situation of GMO’s.
“First, as scientists they understood the importance of an independent investigation into a topic as polarizing as the science behind how we grow and produce food,” Kennedy said. “When we insisted on complete creative control and final cut before we could participate in the project, they willingly granted that control to us.”
IFT is not a trade association, according to Kennedy. They do not represent industry and amongst their members who work in the private sector, many work for the natural and organic food industry as well and not just for what many have come to call “Big Food” or “Big Ag.” The documentary goes beyond food production here at home.
“It covers first world privilege situations like ours in the United States and tracks all the way around the world to situations like food insecurity in a place like Uganda where 50 percent of the bananas have been wiped out by a virus that there’s a GMO fix for,” Kennedy said. “But it can’t get to farmers because of the controversy and laws not being in place. I just found it to be fascinating and the story wasn’t be told correctly. There’s a lot of people spreading misinformation and we wanted to try and dig deep and look for the science based full truth on this controversial conversation.”
One issue the documentary takes on is Round Up ready GMO seeds. Mainly used for corn, soy and cotton, these seeds are able to withstand the herbicide glyphosate while it kills the weeds around the crops. Kennedy says the use of glyphosate has gone up in the last 20 years.
“But, does that mean that it has made the agricultural system worse? Less sustainable, more toxic? The answer to that is no,” Kennedy said. “Because glyphosate has such low toxicity, it’s better than what’s come before it. So the overall answer to your question is pounds up does not equal toxicity up, as you’ll see in the film.”
Food safety is a serious issue and shouldn’t be taken lightly. But Kennedy says scaring people is not a good way to communicate.
“It’s hard,” Kennedy said.” “But science sure helps to be able to dig in and find good sources and celebrate the ones that are good sources and call out the ones that are not using science and are manipulating the truth to further their message.”
Kennedy says the documentary has done well so far at universities, libraries and museums. It even received 100 percent on its review from Rotten Tomatoes.