» » Food Evolution (2016)

Short summary

Using the controversy over genetically-modified foods as its entry point, 'Food Evolution' shows how easily fear and misinformation can overwhelm objective, evidence-based analysis.
Food Evolution looks at one of the most critical questions facing the world today-that of food security-and demonstrates the desperate need for common sense, solid information, and calm logical deliberation. Using the often angry and emotional controversy over genetically-modified foods as its entry point, Food Evolution shows how easily fear and misinformation can overwhelm objective, evidence-based analysis. Food Evolution takes the position that science and scientists hold the key to solving the food crisis. But whose science? In the GMO debate, both sides claim science is on their side. Who's right? How do we figure this out? What does this mean for the larger issues of food security, sustainability, and environmental well-being? Food Evolution seeks to answer these critically important questions.

Trailers "Food Evolution (2016)"

User reviews

  • comment
    • Author: Sagda
    I saw this last week. It's really great to see a science-based look at this topic, rather than the emotional, non-science viewpoint of those who don't understand it, which has been the typical Hollywood presentation of this subject. I wish it could have covered some topics in more depth, but movies have their limitations. A large portion of the population has been misled into believing genetically modified crops are inherently bad, and poor people around the world suffer because of the influence of westerners who have more money than they have science education. The only reason I gave 9 stars instead of 10 is that there should have been more subtitles for those of us English-speakers not adept at understanding heavy accents.
  • comment
    • Author: Ishnllador
    If you are at all interested in the modern agriculture system, where our food comes from and how new technology fits into the system then definitely watch this movie. For anyone out there that has watched Food Inc., or read one of Michael Pollan's books and are curious about GMO technology and its safety this movie will lay down the facts for you in depth. Unlike many recent documentaries of recent years this one backs up statements with facts instead of scare tactics and scientists instead of "concerned citizens". The fact that DeGrasse Tyson is the narrator gives this movie instant credibility in my opinion. It also features Bill Nye and to my surprise Michael Pollan both commenting in favor of GMO technology. If you are curious about food then watch this movie.

    I watched this film as part of a pre-release screening.
  • comment
    • Author: FreandlyMan
    I saw this at the DC Environmental Film Festival. I didn't know to expect, given the audience, but the crowd really enjoyed the movie. So unlike many of the people reviewing here, I've actually seen the film. There was also a panel of experts discussing the film after the showing, and they did the best they could to answer audience member questions.

    This film addresses pretty much every argument you might have against GMOS, and then show how the claims against them are untrue. Issues of health, safety, environment, big business, corporate shills, weed resistance, pesticides, yield, etc. and correct the misinformation that 's out there on the web by talking to actual scientists who actually work with GMOs. A much better source than some random person who opposes them, don't you think?

    This is an excellent film to watch if you're not sure where you stand on the issue of GMOs, or have heard a bit about it, but don't know enough to really go either way. If you are completely closed- minded about the issue, then don't bother, because no amount of science, logic, and reason is going to change your mind, to paraphrase Tamar Haspel in the movie.
  • comment
    • Author: Gozragore
    This is the movie that all this's who have heard negative stuff on the internet should watch. It will not convince those whose business it is to Spread fear and loathing about GMOs, instead it gives a balanced view and shows the fearmongers at work. You can judge yourself what to decide. The film won't do it for you. It leaves you to make your own conclusions. In short, anyone who cares about the planet should go and see it!
  • comment
    • Author: Vushura
    For years discussions of GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, have been clouded by a fog of terrible cherry-picked documentaries that opponents use as "proof" that there are scary things under the bed that are lurking for us. All the while scientists stayed in their labs, doing the actual work, that showed GMOs have great benefits and potential for solving real problems of food security and environmental challenges we face.

    Finally a science-based look at genetic engineering and its applications helps explain the situation better. But it's not a nerdy lecture. It's a compelling story of papayas, bananas, and people in this drama. The heroes are the scientists and science advocates finally out of the labs to discuss this, the villains are charlatans peddling their detox potions and fear-mongering.

    And I could listen to Neil DeGrasse Tyson all day long.

    Disclosure: I am a scientist, and friends with many of the science participants in the film. But I had nothing to do with the film. I've just been lucky enough to see it ahead of release.

    Edit to add: beware of the folks who are talking about this film who haven't seen it. They are wrong about the contents of the film, I assure you.
  • comment
    • Author: Weiehan
    A movie producer with no history of involvement in agriculture took a look at the case presented by both supporters and opponents of genetically modified crops used for food. He looked at it from the perspective of farmers, researchers and consumers concerned about the health and well-being of their families. In the end he chose to support what he learned from good science. The penalty for doing so, for him and his colleagues, was/is to be vilified by a small group who reject any suggestion that genetic engineering (or genetic modification if you will) is anything more than just an evil scheme to poison people because of greed. I have seen Food Evolution three times. It's both informative and entertaining. You should definitely view it too when/if you get the chance.
  • comment
    • Author: Quttaro
    After decades of one sided anti-GMO documentaries, such as "The Future of Food", "seeds of death" and "GMO OMG" we FINALLY have a documentary that provides the science in a digestible form for the laymen. As someone who has done a minor in biotechnology and planning to apply for plant biotech in agriculture, this film was just a delight! Not only that, it has people of both sides being fairly represented, which is rare for a documentary. Some people might (and some reviewers here have) disagree with this, since it largely argues in favor of GMO and debunks many anti-GMO arguments, but that's not a necessary feature of a balanced documentary. If you do a documentary that accurately represents the science of an issue, and one side of the issue is clearly wrong, then "bashing" the wrong side is inevitable. The same would be true if you would do a balanced documentary on evolution vs creationism, vaccines vs alt-medicine, or on climate change. What matters is for a balanced documentary is that both sides have an opportunity to present their arguments and both arguments are being examined against the evidence.

    What I especially like about this film is when it goes into how people are often not affected by facts. "When was the last time you changed your mind?" The major problem in communicating science is that science between professional is being argued with facts, but when you present a fact that goes in conflict with people's beliefs, it more often doesn't persuade them. So we shouldn't just throw out uncomfortable facts at people. That won't help. We need to have a critical discussion on this, which is what this film attempts to do. It is also very heartwarming to see that they do acknowledge that the humanity of the other side. Often in anti-GMO propaganda pieces, the other side is overtly demonized as "Shills hired by Monsanto". We do of course have "shills", but both sides have people who are invested in their opinions. Charles Benbrook is a good example featured in the film. People like "the food babe" and "Zen Honeycutt" also benefit from people believing their side, which selling their woo products on their website. But we also have human beings on both sides who are genuinely caring with pure motivations. How much I despise when people actively destroy test fields, I have to recognize that, while they did the wrong thing, they were motivated with good intent. Something that I've learned from this film.

    (Some things I would like to mention what other reviewers have said)

    A general response first: Some people have commended that this is a propaganda film. A very severe accusation that should not be taken lightly. Most of the reasons given for judging it as propaganda weren't even true of were not even relevant. As wikipedia defines it, propaganda "is information that is not objective and is used primarily to influence an audience and further an agenda, often by presenting facts selectively to encourage a particular synthesis or perception, or using loaded language to produce an emotional rather than a rational response to the information that is presented." The documentary doesn't fit the bill, in fact it provokes a rational response, to recognize the bias that even the side of which it argues in favor of. Another wikipedia article lists some propaganda tactic, which is basically a list of logical fallacies commonly used for propaganda. None of these were used in "Food Evolution" though commonly used by anti-GMO documentaries. Ironically some of the reviewer here used some of these fallacies, such as the ad hominem, or specifically the (monsanto) shill gambit fallacy. Accusing the film makers of being shills (which isn't true, the documentary was funded only by IFT, a non-profit organization), rather than dispute the arguments being made with the facts.

    -To "So where's the science Neill?" by ariel-mr83 Which contains several insults at Neil, even though he was just the narrator. I guess when a documentary contains something you disagree with, you complain to the narrator. Anyway: First, the documentary did represented many studies on the safety of GMO's at around 16 minutes to 18. One paper that I recommend (which I think was feature) is "An overview of the last 10 years of genetically engineered crop safety research" which is free to read. Second, monocultures are the result of the green revolution, not a consequence of GMO's. Third, there are no 10 species of papaya. Fourth, the fact that there could be other potential solutions out there, that doesn't mean one based on GMO's isn't a valid one. Fifth, of course they want you to know the scientists that are right, that's what a good documentary does.

    -To "More from Monsanto's propaganda machine" by goldie6175 The title screams the "shill gambit". As previously pointed out, monsanto didn't fund this documentary. It was IFT. Not everyone who is pro-GMO is in league with Monsanto. This person probably never saw the film, because glyphosate got extensively covered including the explanation that Glyphosate is much safer than most other herbicides, thus the use of this herbicides has decreased the net toxicity of herbicide use. Something even Charles Benbrook agreed with, which was also featured in the film. And as mentioned, both sides were included.

    • A Totally Blatant Propaganda Film pushing GMO's by md1255
    Largely the same mistakes. Glyphosate got covered, also both sides were represented. This person also makes a big fuzz about "the science that proves the very real and dangerous effects it will have on our planet and our health in the long run" which was somehow ignored. Perhaps there aren't any of such studies. Ever thought about that possibility? Also, one infamous "study" commonly used by anti-GMO activists (the Seralini rat study) was included in the video, and pretty much exposed as how bad the paper is. If you want something that goes deeper into the paper that wasn't mentioned by the documentary is that there is (among all the inconsistent dat) just one consistent dose response that indicates that male rats who ate herbicide lived longer. Look it up! There was also even the paper of Benbrook on the use of herbicide glyphosate that was featured. So when this person said that these other studies were left out and "only the science they wanted you to see" were shown, it is clear to me that he either did not watch the film, didn't listened to it or is just lying. He ends about patents, which is another Anti-GMO argument that god (sort-of) debunked in the film when it points out (around 35 minutes in) that many non-GMO (including organic) crops varieties are patented as well. Patenting seeds isn't an invention of GMO's! There is one thing he said I agree with. Don't believe what is said, check the citations, read them. Don't believe me! Ask questions and actually listen to the answers.

    To "You'd have to be really interested - long-winded partial account" by rowaneisner-1 Aside from the points that were already argued by other reviewers, this one made several errors. The film had the approach that GMO's isn't one thing. The narrator (neil) even said that GMO have to be studied on a case by case basis (at around 18.30 minutes in) just like the Kenyan parliament. Also, terminators seeds don't exists and haven't ever, so how can anybody being harmed by them? That's a persistent myth. What he is referring to when he said "organic crops polluted by wind pollination from GM crops 2km away, and then prosecuted for 'theft'." it is referring to how companies like Monsanto will sue farmers who have crops that have patented genes as a result of accidental contamination via cross-pollination. However, that is also a persistent myth. Such lawsuits have never happend. Organic farmers tried to sue Monsanto, before (as they believed) Monsanto had a chance to sue them because of this myth. However, the case was dismissed when it became clear they couldn't site even one example to prove that Monsanto ever did something like this. Percy Schmeiser is often presented as one case of a farmer being sued for accidental contamination of his canola plants. When Percy was sued, he tried to claim innocence by blaming accidental contamination, however >98% of the canola were round up ready, which couldn't have been the result of contamination. The true story is that Percy deliberately sprayed glyphosate on a few canola plants at the edges of his fields and collected the seeds of the survivors and planted them. So as a result, he grew 1,030 acres with canola plants which were roundup ready with full knowledge. Because he knew that he was deliberately planting these seeds, he lost the case, but Percy went online misrepresenting the truth and thereby creating this myth. Also, "the mosquitoes had been engineered to produce scorpion venom" is actually fungi that specifically infects insects had been engineered with certain genes that inhibit the propagation of malaria. Notice that he didn't mention about how this could stop the spread of malaria.....oh I wonder why....And it is not that the fungus just strait up produces venom. Venom is often composed of many different proteins with different functions. Some may be deadly on their own, but others may just have useful properties that isn't the same as the whole venom. Basically what is true for the whole isn't necessarily true for the part. For example cone snail venom is very potent, however some of it components have practical uses in medicine. Example is Ziconotide, a pain reliever 1000 times as powerful as morphine. Likewise this gene of the scorpion venom doesn't have all the properties of the entirety of the venom. It has anti microbial uses, and kills malaria. More on this:
  • comment
    • Author: Ishnsius
    I'm a scientist in this field, and it has always driven me nuts that the GMO debate was often carried out through documentaries, but there wasn't one that made sure to get the science right. This one does. It shows both sides, as well as the faults that go along with them. If you are unsure at all about food, GMOs, or the science around it, this is an excellent place to go. It's funded independently of all sides of the issue, so they are unbiased, just led by the facts. It's a truly excellent film.
  • comment
    • Author: Lailace
    After seeing a dozen anti-science food documentaries this movie is a breath of fresh air.

    If you've seen Food, Inc., Super Size Me, GMOLOL, Food Matters, Hungry for Change, In Defense of Food, Cowspiracy, Vanishing of the Bees, Food Fight, King Corn, Fresh, Sustainable, In Organic We Trust, A Place at the Table, Politics of Food, or Food Politics, you need to see this movie.

    If you're freaked out about chemicals in your food, you need to see this movie.

    If you're avoiding gluten, GMOs, and non-organic foods because you're worried about your health, you need to see this movie.

    And if you're a garden-variety eater who believes organic food is grown without chemicals, you need to see this movie.

    If you share memes on Facebook or Twitter about the evil of modern agriculture, you need to see this movie.

    And if you think Moms Across America, Consumers Union, FoodBabe, Avocado Wolfe, Michael Pollan, Marion Nestle, Natural News, March Against Monsanto, Vandana Shiva, or any chiropractor, naturopath, or holistic personal trainer wants to keep you safe and healthy, you need to see this movie.

    And if you shop at Whole Foods, you need to see this movie (if you can afford it.)
  • comment
    • Author: Gri
    This is an outstanding movie. A refreshing change from the unscientific perspectives pushed by so many of the other movies - movies that use emotion to manipulate the viewer into fearing the modern tools of science and agriculture. I was pleased that this movie devoted a few minutes to calling out some of the charlatans who profit from spreading fear & misinformation about agriculture and the modern tools for genetic improvement. I do wish more time was spent on exposing Vandana Shiva and the lucrative career she has made by spreading her lies and misinformation.

    I was very pleased that considerable time was spent on explaining the human and environmental costs of not using modern tools for genetic improvement of plants and agriculture.

    Another reviewer complains about the movie not showing both sides of the issue. I highly doubt the reviewer has made such a complaint about the several one-sided crock-u-mentaries out there. This reveals the reviewer didn't pay close attention to the film or didn't watch it at all.

    But I digress, the whole point of this movie is to offset the unscientific, emotive, manipulative perspectives of the other films. And the filmmakers largely did so by openly showing the other side and explaining how they are wrong and who they are. How the reviewer says this is a one- sided film is quite inscrutable.
  • comment
    • Author: Ghordana
    This is the only documentary on the subject of food myths that is funded by actual scientists - not the organic industry, not activist organizations trying to scare you into donating. There is no debate between scientists about GM. It's between scientists and science advocates, and members of the general public hoodwinked by activists and industry lobbyists to fear safe foods.
  • comment
    • Author: Goldcrusher
    The film has two main points. One is that activists, often with a vested interest, have been saying anything they can for years to scare people over this breeding tool. The second is that genetic engineering is just a tool. No one says it is a miracle cure for world hunger, but it should be in the toolbox when needed. For example, conventional breeding cannot be used on diseased bananas. GE breeding can.
  • comment
    • Author: Ustamya
    Although I am "team science" all the way and trust hypothesis subjected to the scientific method, I am aware that most people are not. Most people derive their system of beliefs through personal and/or emotional experience. Although the argument presented here may have been effectively supported by scientific evidence, the creators did not address the real issue. There was no mention of mono-cropping or the disruption of the nitrogen cycle by keeping cattle production and crop cultivation separate. IF YOU WANT TO DISPEL A MYTH, YOU HAVE TO ILLUMINATE THE REAL ISSUE!
  • comment
    • Author: Malahelm
    There is so much information missing from this movie about the dangers of GMOs and Glyphosate that it is almost laughable. You want to make a movie that has a real impact, include both sides. Of course, the biotech industry won't allow that, as they know that the real science will clearly show that this is a dangerous technology and hurting the planet and it's inhabitants. This is clearly profit over people.
  • comment
    • Author: Fawrindhga
    Unfortunately, this documentary could really use an impartial editor. It is overly long, repetitive and self-indulgent. It came across as propaganda. It is a pity because I expect GMOs hold great promise, but I doubt this will change minds. For that to happen the benefits need to speak for themselves and be overwhelmingly better than the potential problems. I don't think GMOs have found their killer app yet, but they may be close.

    Far too long was spent opposition bashing and on the safety issues. Yes, they need to be safe but much more they need to be beneficial. You had to wait till near the end to hear much about the benefits. The most important application to me was the use in bananas, because bananas are typically propagated as clones at it is not possible to fight disease by conventional breeding. This was not explained. Also, it is a staple for many people. But it looked like a tiny trial which had not been tested as a crop. So it's probably not ready for prime time. The main benefit they focused on was papaya in Hawaii, but the main beneficiaries of this are the papaya growers, so this will be less persuasive to a public who may already be in conflict with industrial farming.

    Another major problem with the film is that it bought into the anti- GMO movement's characterisation of GMOs as one thing. The first mention of not treating it monolithically was the Kenyan parliament saying they will examine it on a case-by-case basis - hooray! Now if the film had taken that approach it would have been more convincing. There are legitimate criticisms of the GMO industry and some of the most damning were not mentioned which seems disingenuous. People have been harmed by terminator genes and having organic crops polluted by wind pollination from GM crops 2km away, and then prosecuted for 'theft'. I was startled to hear the mosquitoes had been engineered to produce scorpion venom. Maybe that's perfectly safe but I don't know enough to be able to tell. It must be possible to cause harm through GE, so I don't see how you can make a blanket judgement that it's safe any more than you can condemn it all as unsafe.

    I think that if the GE industry had taken some sensible precautions then the public backlash may have been prevented. For example, maybe germline engineering should have been embargoed for a long time (as it is in human research), or at least wind pollinated species.

    I hear they are producing a short version of the film - good, I expect that will help. I think this is a great example of why you need a producer over the top of a director, or we'd all have to sit though directors' cuts.
  • comment
    • Author: Uranneavo
    That documentary is bias. It brings a very valid point: environmentalists are often presenting arguments that aren't based on scientific evidences. I wish it could have been presenting a revue of scientific studies that present us the pros and cons of using that technology. But it focuses more on bashing the opponent or trying to make them silly. If you are following the debate on GMO, this documentary is worth seeing for the covering of Hawaiians papaya or the banana crop in Uganda, as I don't think it was much covered in other documentary on the genre. It looks like it was financed by the industry. The filmmaker uses the same tools claimed to be problematic: manipulating the viewers to gain public sympathy.
  • comment
    • Author: Shomeshet
    Where are the GMO risks - noone has ever shown any. Really a good documentary among all the hysteria about GMO.
  • comment
    • Author: Yahm
    I have no idea why the film director decided to blatantly side with GMO's, and accept only the science that points to some benefits right now, and totally ignore the science that proves the very real and dangerous effects it will have on our planet and our health in the long run. I can't say the director was paid off by Monsanto or someone else of interest because I don't know, but the film did come off as if every frame from beginning to end was hand picked by such companies to try and settle the storm of truth that's been coming their way.

    For a moment I thought to give this film a 10 because it forced me to look deeper into the truth about GMO's., but I had to get real and give it a 2 because it was so completely one sided. Sure there was science, but only the science they wanted you to see. They completely left out the dangers of dumping hundreds of millions of pounds of the chemical Glyphosate all over the earth. This film is obviously aimed at being a 100% propaganda film to try and convince us that GMO's are good and this poison is safe, while plenty of other scientist are pointing out a very real and wide spread danger. And from what I read so far it doesn't look good ir we let them take over.

    But don't believe me, or the film, do your own research. And definitely don't fall for all the phony reviews on here praising this film as if it's a breath of fresh wonderfully pure science. Those people for sure are either paid, or sadly not very aware of the facts.

    In any case, I sure don't like the idea of big corporations patenting seeds and owning our food supply. That's just one step away from owning us. If we let them, they will keep getting bigger until we have no choice but to eat what they have or starve. We'll be like dogs to it's master if we give up control of our food. Let's not do this. Have a happy, healthy life, sincerely, M.D.
  • comment
    • Author: Dozilkree
    The film makes an effort to show both sides of this issue, but it leans towards arguments to support the potential benefits of GMOs. Like most all doc films, the bias comes across in the amount of footage highlighting certain viewpoints.

    Did the filmmaker select the most astute anti-GMO people, to be as fair-handed as possible? Not at all. Most of the anti-GMO people in the film came across as preachy extremists. In one scene, there's a public debate between both sides, and the anti-GMO people resembled buffoons.

    One thing the film did not seem to address: there are no studies on the long term effects of GMOs, many years after they're consumed. Because GMOs were introduced only about 23 years ago, I don't consider the current studies to be iron-clad.

    I'm accustomed to Q&A sessions after screenings. But the brief verbal "survey" given by the Director came off as overly-simplistic, consisting of broad questions. When one viewer expressed his frustration about the film, the Director responded in a defensive tone. Perhaps he was burned out from battling complaints from all of the anti-GMO activists.
  • comment
    • Author: Vertokini
    This documentary is a waste of resources. I didn't see any long term research science showing GMO'S are safe. The problem is monoculture which makes mono crops vulnerable to pests, pathogens etc...If Hawaii was growing 10 different species of Papayas that would've never happened so GMO would be unnecessary. It also doen't show any scientists trying to bring back biodiversity or any other natural solutions to the problem just wants you to know scientists are right. Which is a waste of an hour of my time. Neill, keep looking for water on Mars like the rest of useless scientist out there.
  • Credited cast:
    Raoul Adamchak Raoul Adamchak - Himself
    Charles Benbrook Charles Benbrook - Himself
    Karl Haro von Mogel Karl Haro von Mogel - Himself
    Tamar Haspel Tamar Haspel - Herself
    Mark Lynas Mark Lynas - Himself
    Emma Naluyima Mugerwa Emma Naluyima Mugerwa - Herself
    Bill Nye Bill Nye - Himself
    Michael Pollan Michael Pollan - Himself
    Pamela Ronald Pamela Ronald - Herself
    Kavin Senapathy Kavin Senapathy - Herself
    Leena Tripathi Leena Tripathi - Herself
    Neil deGrasse Tyson Neil deGrasse Tyson - Narrator
    Alison Van Eenennaam Alison Van Eenennaam - Herself
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