“Calm, careful, potentially revolutionary, “Food Evolution” is an iconoclastic documentary on a hot-button topic,” begins a laudatory Los Angeles Times review of a new pro-GMO doc. “Persuasive rather than polemical, it’s the unusual issue film that deals in counterintuitive reason rather than barely controlled hysteria.”
Let’s see how the “Food Evolution” film and positive press review twists information to promote it.
The LA Times continues – “Food Evolution” reports that the increase in glyphosate use due to GMOs is not a problem, because glyphosate is safe.”
FACT – Some studies have reported glyphosate is not safe (research has linked it to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma), and California just declared it a possible carcinogen.
Back to the LA Times – “Food Evolution” takes time to carefully parse several issues that arise in the debate, like tumors in rats who eat GMO food (they get tumors no matter what they eat).”
FACT – Rats by nature are very susceptible to the development of tumors, however the French GMO study found liver congestions and necrosis were 2.5 to 5.5 times higher in males, and in females, all treatment groups showed a two- to threefold increase in mortality, and deaths were earlier.
LA Times – “The film also emphasizes that decisions made in the developed world can have global implications, exploring difficulties farmers in Uganda are having gaining access to the GMO bananas they want to combat decimation by disease.”
FACT – GMO bananas are in the field testing stage in Uganda, and are not commercially available. The UN in contrast promotes a successful low tech approach to combat bunchy top disease in bananas.
Then we have the Hollywood Reporter’s review which asserts: “Recalling the debate over climate change, Food Evolution asserts that a consensus of scientists worldwide believes there’s no danger in consuming crops whose genes have been modified.”
And a Slate review – “It is abundantly clear that the film, like any good documentary, is argument-driven, attempting to prove that GMOs, far from how they’ve been painted, are in fact safe.”
FACT – There is no consensus about GMO safety, and a number of scientists disagree and have expressed caution –
Dr. Patrick Brown, Department of Plant Sciences, College of Agriculture and Environmental Science, University of California: “We must recognize that our knowledge of the processes that regulate gene incorporation and expression are in their infancy. It is certainly possible that the current regulatory safeguards are inadequate and may not be offering sufficient protection against inadvertent creation of health and ecological problems.”.
Plant biologist Dr. Jonathan R. Latham: “I now believe that GMO crops still run far ahead of our understanding of their risks. I have read numerous GMO risk assessment applications. The experiments described within them are often very inadequate and sloppily executed. Both scientists and the public are correct to doubt that GMOs should ever have been let out of any lab.”
The Hollywood Reporter review continues – “Activists have made widespread use, for instance, of a scientific paper and related photos claiming Monsanto’s Roundup pesticide causes horrific tumors in rats — a paper Kennedy points out was not subject to peer review, and was later retracted amid much controversy.”
FACT – The Séralini study was subsequently republished, and peer reviewed. It was retracted in the first place only after a sustained campaign of criticism and defamation by pro-GMO scientists, including a former Monsanto employee who took an editorial position with the journal where it was originally published.
New York Times review – “And while it gives opponents their say, the film rebuts their arguments, including reports that suggest G.M.O.s lead to a rise in farmers’ suicide rates and an increase in pesticide use. (The response to the first: correlation is not causation; to the second, yes, but those pesticides are far less toxic.)”
FACT – The doc ignores evidence that companies like Monsanto and Syngenta employ a variety of toxic restricted use pesticides on their test fields in Hawaii. And writing in AlterNet environmental activist Zen Honeycutt wonders: “What degree of food toxicity is acceptable for you to give to your children?”
The New York Times review continues without bothering to fact check – “In press notes and email correspondence, the film’s producers say no funding came from any Big Ag company or lobbying group. “Food Evolution” was commissioned by the nonprofit Institute of Food Technologists.”
FACT – The IFT is partly funded by big food corporations, and the group’s president at the time was Janet Collins, a former DuPont and Monsanto executive who now works for the pesticide trade association CropLife America. IFT’s president-elect Cindy Stewart works for DuPont.
The New York Times review shamelessly concludes – ““Food Evolution” posits an inconvenient truth for organic boosters to swallow: In a world desperate for safe, sustainable food, G.M.O.s may well be a force for good.”
In sharp contrast a Huffpost review nails the truth – “It comes off looking like a textbook case of corporate propaganda for the agrichemical industry and its GMO crops.”
Both Zen Honeycutt and NYU nutrition professor Marion Nestle say their interviews used in the doc were taken out of context and have asked for them to be removed, without success.
Professor Nestle writes: “In my 10-second clip, I say that I am unaware of convincing evidence that eating GM foods is unsafe—this is what I said, but it is hugely out of context. I think there are plenty of issues about GMOs in addition to safety that deserve thoughtful consideration. “Food Evolution” focuses exclusively on the safety of GMOs; it dismisses environmental issues out of hand. It says next to nothing about corn and soybean monoculture and the resulting weed resistance, and it denies the increase in use of toxic herbicides now needed to deal with resistant weeds. It says nothing about how this industry spends fortunes on lobbying and in fighting labeling transparency.”
In an AlterNet article Honeycutt says the doc, “negatively portrays both me and the organic food movement.” “They take my words out of context, misrepresenting what I say with heavy editing and belittling the experiences of thousands of American families. That doesn’t look like putting bias aside; it looks like an advertisement for GMOs.”
“In the film they edited my interview in order to make it look like I said, “I trust social media more than scientists.” What I actually said was that I trust the mothers who are seeing their children get sick after consuming GMOs and related toxins and are courageously sharing their new reality on social media, more than the scientists who are conducting isolated experiments funded by Big Ag.”