New Documentary Shines a light on Science and Agriculture
Science recently struck back in a new documentary from Black Valley Films. Food Evolution hammers home the point that it’s much easier to scare people about food than it is to educate them about new technology.
The New York Times made the following observation about the new documentary available currently on Hulu: “With a soft tone, respectful to opponents but insistent on the data, Food Evolution posits an inconvenient truth for organic boosters to swallow: In a world desperate for safe, sustainable food, GMO’s may well be a force for good.”
This film throws cold water on the likes of Vani Hari, a.k.a. the Food Babe, Jeffrey Smith an anti-GMO activist, and Zen Honeycutt, an organic food activist. It points out that these people are not scientists, they’re activists using no peer-reviewed data or science that can be duplicated, to frighten consumers. Their target audience is mainly mothers with young children. In addition, the film points out how these activists are profiting from inducing fear and uncertainty.
At one point in the film Honeycutt makes the statement that organic food is “how God intended it to be.” However, she is then confronted with the fact that nearly all organic fruits and vegetables have been genetically modified throughout history for positive traits through selective breeding.
Filmmakers Trace Sheehan and Scott Hamilton Kennedy were reluctant at first, when they received a pitch for a film that presented a “fact-based public dialogue about our food system,” from the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), a non-profit. The documentary’s website provides a thorough explanation of how the project was conceived. After an initial conversation the filmmakers learned three things that solidified their desire to make the film.
“First, as scientists they (IFT) understood the importance of an independent investigation into a topic as polarizing as the science behind how we grow and produce food, and as such, when we insisted on complete creative control and final cut before we could participate in the project, they willingly granted that control to us.
Second, IFT is not a trade association, they do not represent industry and amongst their members who work in the private sector, many work for the natural and organic food industry as well and not just for what many have come to call “Big Food” or “Big Ag.” They represent science, scientists and the body of scientific knowledge that continues to evolve, as science does. As with nearly all scientific societies, they charge companies that wish to advertise, sponsor or exhibit in their publications or annual food exhibition to help finance their operations as a non-profit. But, most importantly, neither the motivation nor the funding for this film would come from any grants or from any particular company or industry group, but solely from the scientific society itself on behalf of its diverse membership.
And third, as food scientists who were tired of seeing their work denigrated and diminished by less detail-oriented, if often well-intentioned, media and activists that focused on fear-mongering over facts, their overarching goal for this project was to promote a more science-based conversation about food, and not to advance any particular agenda.”
This documentary takes a step back from the fray of food politics and misinformation and puts the science first. The conclusions it draws are based in fact and peer-reviewed. It’s information about food that consumers can trust which is refreshing at a time when misinformation is the norm. But as Sheehan, the film’s producer and writer explained to Forbes Magazine, evaluate the data and draw your own conclusions.
“That’s how science works,” Sheehan said. “Show us your data and let the experts and scientists debate the issues in all their glorious nuance. And as we take in the scientific process at work, let’s do our best to put aside bias so we can have more productive conversations and make the most informed decisions we can. That’s all we can ask of each other and ourselves.”