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New Film "The Future of Food" is Inspiring the Anti-GE Movement in America

Web Note: The Organic Consumers Association is sponsoring House Parties
across the US this fall, premiering the new documentary film, "The Future of
Food," by Deborah Koons Garcia. Click Here for information on ordering a
Video or Video of the Film

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GMO-Food Foes Turn to Film
By Jason Silverman
Wired News, Jul. 08, 2004

Last March, the food-safety organization GMO Free Mendocino did something no
group had ever done: It ushered through a law banning genetically engineered
crops and livestock.

It was a David-thrashes-Goliath victory. Opponents of the legislation, led
by the agricultural trade group CropLife America, outspent the anti-GMO
activists by a nearly 10-1 ratio. But GMO Free Mendocino had a secret
weapon: a film, then a work in progress, called The Future of Food.

The new documentary, created by Deborah Koons Garcia, uses archival footage
and interviews with farmers and agriculture experts to argue that GMO foods
are jeopardizing our food safety. During the past 10 years, the film tells
us, genetically engineered crops have infected our food supply and
undermined cultivation methods that have been refined over thousands of
years.

The Future of Food lays out a detailed case against genetically engineered
crops. Exploring a gamut of issues from so-called suicide seeds to lax
food-safety enforcement laws, and from the controversy over patented genes
to infected cornfields, the film is a comprehensive and chilling example of
anti-GMO rhetoric.

GMO Free Mendocino spokesman Doug Mosel described The Future of Food as a
major factor in the passage of Measure H, which banned the use of GMO
farming within Mendocino County, California.

"The Future of Food could be the Fahrenheit 9/11 of the genetically
engineered food battle," Mosel said. The film is currently touring festivals
and other events, including an upcoming screening in San Francisco.

Garcia, Jerry Garcia's third and final wife, has been interested in the ways
plants can be mutated since childhood. At 15, she won a science fair award
for an experiment involving irradiated plants, and she has followed the
evolution of genetic engineering for years.

"My goal was to make a film that gave the average person a clear
understanding of how genetic engineering works, from the cellular level to
the global level," Garcia said. "I'm hoping this film can be a combination
of Silent Spring and The Battle of Algiers. Once you see it you'll feel
compelled to act, even if that means just changing the kind of food you
eat."

Though The Future of Food is not intended as a two-sides-to-the-story
analysis, Garcia said she requested interviews from representatives at
Monsanto, the multinational seed and pesticide giant that is driving the
genetically engineered food movement. She did not receive a response.

Perhaps Monsanto is trying to keep a low profile. The company has suffered a
string of well-publicized setbacks to its genetically engineered crop
initiatives in recent years, including closure of its GMO wheat project in
May.

According to agriculture expert Chuck Benbrook, Monsanto and other biotech
agriculture companies are "retrenching -- reducing their research, reducing
projections for profits, watching the range of viable applications
shrinking."

Benbrook served in the Carter and Reagan administrations before becoming
executive director of the Board on Agriculture of the National Academy of
Sciences. In his various positions, he watched as biotech companies rushed
products to market. The first GMO foods reached shelves in 1997.

Though scientists were initially supportive to the point of being myopic --
Benbrook described early reports from the National Academy as "unadulterated
boosterism" -- biotech foods today look less promising than they did even a
few years ago. According to Benbrook, genetic engineering has failed to
solve the problems advocates hoped it would. And, he added, food-safety
concerns remain unresolved.

"The biotech industry is beginning to recognize that there are lots of
reasons why it's hard to move genes across boundaries," Benbrook said.
"Scientists have found ways around the natural protections, but there are
really good reasons for them being there, and we violate them at some cost."

For five-sixths of the problems that genetic engineering promises to
address, Benbrook added, genetic solutions are not necessary.

GMO companies are also finding increased resistance on the legal front. In
April, Vermont became the first state to require registration and labeling
of genetically modified products. According to one anti-GMO site, nearly 100
towns in New England have approved some sort of anti-GMO legislation.

Since the Mendocino law was signed, Garcia said as many as a dozen other
California municipalities have drawn up similar legislation.

"The Future of Food has already helped change policy," Garcia said. "I think
it is possible to make California GE-free, and it's exciting to think that
the film could have some role in that."
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This GMO news service is underwritten by a generous grant from the Newman's
Own Foundation and is a production of the Ecological Farming Association
www.eco-farm.org <http://www.eco-farm.org/>
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