Monday, October 19, 2009

The Future of Food (2004): Grade C

The Future of Food (2004)
Writer-Director Deborah Koons.

This obviously heartfelt documentary shows how large agricultural companies like Monsanto are force-feeding unlabelled, genetically modified food down our throats. They create special seeds through genetic engineering, patent them, then sue the socks off of any farmer who has any crops with their genetic signature, no matter if those seeds came onto the farm in the wind or by bird droppings. The agribusinesses own the farmer’s crops and it is against the law for the farmers to re-plant their own seeds once their fields are contaminated with GMO seeds. The film also documents government collusion in this takeover of American farming by giant seed and chemical companies, by stacking executive agencies like the EPA and the judiciary with “business-friendly” leaders. This sad story is well-told, but it is not a new story. Shows like this have been on TV for a long time (PBS at least). There is little or no new information here. The film is well-photographed, with good production values, but like a PBS-NOVA presentation, which it emulates, the material quickly becomes repetitive and boring. A feeble call to action is presented at the end: eat organic and buy local. Would that help? Maybe if you are rich. Organic produce usually costs at least double and often is of inferior quality. Maybe it is worth it though, to prevent Monsanto from taking over the world. But this documentary never does gen up a really rallying cry. It is strictly an “ain’t it awful?” presentation. Yeah, it’s awful, tragically awful, but Americans don’t seem to care. Maybe more call to action would have leavened the heavy fact-based presentation to better effect.

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