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The Future of Food

What author Murray Bookchin once termed "our synthetic environment" becomes more than an abstract phrase in "The Future of Food." Docu is a disturbing -- if somewhat bland and partisan -- study of agribusiness' aggressive push for genetically-modified food. Genetically-modified (or GM) fruits and vegetables are a topic of raging debate in scientific and ecological circles, so it's a shame writer-director Deborah Koons Garcia opts to show only one side of the argument.

With:
With: Andrew Kimbrell, Dr. Charles M. Benbrook, Percy Schmeiser, Rodney Nelson, Fred Kirschenmann, Dr. Ignacio Chapela, Dr. Jorge Soberon, Dr. Exequiel Ezcurra, Darrin Qualman, Judith Redmond, Paul Muller. Narrator: Sara Maamouri. (English, Spanish dialogue)

What author Murray Bookchin once termed “our synthetic environment” becomes more than an abstract phrase in “The Future of Food.” Docu is a disturbing — if somewhat bland and partisan — study of agribusiness’ aggressive push for genetically-modified food. Genetically-modified (or GM) fruits and vegetables are a topic of raging debate in scientific and ecological circles, so it’s a shame writer-director Deborah Koons Garcia opts to show only one side of the argument. Pic’s a rallying cry for organic and slow-food fans everywhere and will find its biggest aud in public interest tube play and activist vid circulation.

Shrewdly, Garcia and her crack researchers immediately point to the rampant failure of “The Green Revolution” project to promote Third World agriculture harvests as an example of how top-down, industrial strategies of food production can often do more harm than good.

Pic wastes no time pointing a giant green finger at the main corporate culprit behind the recent GM push — chemical giant Monsanto. Docu alleges Monsanto devised weed killer Round-Up and then developed seeds that could only grow with the use of Round-Up and other Monsanto-designed pesticides.

In addition, Monsanto is shown bullying farmers, such as Canadian seed developer Percy Schmeiser, by suing them for illegal use of their pesticide products — when the pesticides actually drifted accidentally onto the farmers’ land. This, along with the larger ongoing move by biotech firms to patent GM organisms (in effect, patenting life forms) marks the most potentially widespread control of food and land use by a few corporations in history.

Admirers of “The Corporation” will recognize many arguments and examples set forth here. But while that docu provided a debate as well as a stinging critique in inventive style, Garcia’s pic is plain wrap filmmaking that’s single minded, capped with a pitch for organic eating that’s much too weak.

The Future of Food

U.S.

Production: A Lily Films presentation. Produced by Catherine Lynn Butler, Deborah Koons Garcia. Directed, written by Deborah Koons Garcia.

Crew: Camera (color), John Chater; editor, Vivien Hillgrove; music, Todd Boekelheide; sound, Ray Day, Doug Dunderdale; supervising sound editor, Lora Hirschberg; research, Catherine Lynn Butler, Sara Needham, Sara E. Maamouri; associate producers, Molly Jones, Maamouri, Needham. Reviewed on videotape, Los Angeles, Dec. 31, 2004. (In Mill Valley Film Festival.) Running time: 91 MIN.

With: With: Andrew Kimbrell, Dr. Charles M. Benbrook, Percy Schmeiser, Rodney Nelson, Fred Kirschenmann, Dr. Ignacio Chapela, Dr. Jorge Soberon, Dr. Exequiel Ezcurra, Darrin Qualman, Judith Redmond, Paul Muller. Narrator: Sara Maamouri. (English, Spanish dialogue)

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