Food Evolution


Culinary Cinema | 2016 | 92 minutes

Stranger Says:

How do we cope with a crisis of public trust in science? This is the question at the heart of Food Evolution, Scott Hamilton Kennedy’s competent new documentary on the debate over the safety of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in our food. Unobtrusively narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson, Evolution tracks the global fallout from Hawaii County’s 2013 ban on GM crops, and makes a convincing case that biotechnology has been a force for good in agriculture. But amid a relentless barrage of evidence, the film struggles to avoid a pedantic tone it acknowledges has done little to change public opinion. “We don’t make decisions based on facts, we make decisions based on our gut,” says journalist Tamar Hesper. What’s largely missing here is any attempt to appeal to this deeply human tendency. (ETHAN LINCK)

SIFF Says:

Are GMOs safe? Only 30% of the public thinks so, while a whopping 88% of scientists firmly believe GMOs are safe to consume. This creates the largest disparity in any politicized scientific poll to date. This documentary, narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson, focuses on both sides of this raging debate. We witness the conflict in Hawaii, where GMO products are temporarily banned with the exception of the rainbow papaya, a fruit that depends on genetic modification to survive. In Uganda, bananas are the country’s most important food―providing security to more than 1/3 of the population―yet the majority of the fruit faces something called “banana wilt,” a seemingly unstoppable rot that can be resisted only using GMO modification. In both environments the arguments between concerned citizens, mothers, farmers, and scientists are heated. GMOs certainly lower the nutritional value of food, but are the links to cancers, autism, and other harmful effects actually backed by science? In Food Evolution, director Scott Hamilton Kennedy (Academy Award®-nominated The Garden) uses interviews with Ugandan and Hawaiian farmers, leaders of anti-GMO organizations such as “Moms Across America,” and scientists who work with agricultural biotechnology to encourage a well-rounded discussion of genetically modified foods.

View the trailer here.

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Film Credits
Scott Hamilton Kennedy
Neil deGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye, Michael Pollan, Charles Benbrook
SIFF 2017