Concerned consumers are used to counting calories, cholesterol content and grams of saturated fat. But what about hidden allergens, antibiotic-resistant bacteria and genetic compounds capable of kick-starting everything from dormant toxins to cancer? The ongoing debate between agribusinesses and the increasingly vocal antibiotech movement over the effects of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on the public health, the environment and the future of farming rages on. But there's no question as to which side of the pea-patch Deborah Koons Garcia's (wife of the late Grateful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia) documentary stands on. Garcia's handsomely produced film, a primer on the dangers of industrial farming, lays out several issues of concern generated by the quest to bioengineer a tomato that won't rot en route to the supermarket, an ear of corn that will kill its own worst enemies (while maximizing profits for seed companies) and rice with a high nutritional content that can be grown in famine-stricken regions. In light of the risks involved — notably the decimation of the Earth's once-diverse food sources, 97 percent of which have disappeared since 1900 — there seems to be no argument in favor of so-alled "Frankenfoods." If there is, Garcia isn't even trying to make it. Instead, she tells of the perils of food patenting, which pits independent farmers against giant, multinational corporations like Monsanto, which bring suits against growers when their proprietary transgenic crops are found growing "illegally," regardless of how they got there, and the outrageous refusal of food companies to alert consumers to the presence of GMOs through labeling. Garcia also maps the eye-opening and deeply disconcerting crossover between government regulatory agencies like the FDA, USDA and the EPA, and companies like Monsanto. But so much information whizzes by so fast that unless you have some prior knowledge of the subject, key concepts like "substantial equivalence," which lies at the heart of the US government's failure to properly monitor new foods, are insufficiently defined. Terrifying terms like "E. coli" and "superweeds," however, linger just long enough to leave an impression. Despite its shortcomings, it's an effective clarion call that will no doubt stir audiences to action, even if it doesn't quite prepare them for the important battle ahead.
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- Released: 2004
- Rating: NR
- Review: Concerned consumers are used to counting calories, cholesterol content and grams of saturated fat. But what about hidden allergens, antibiotic-resistant bacteria and genetic compounds capable of kick-starting everything from dormant toxins to cancer? The o… (more)