Edited by Peter
The movie was very slow and, at times, I did not know if I was watching a documentary about GMOs or some guy’s vacation footage. It’s also extremely padded with the vast majority of the film consisting of Jeremy interviewing farmers and people on the streets about their views on GMOs – most of whom don’t even know what a GMO is, but somehow by the end of the documentary believe they are more than qualified to give their opinion on the subject. I am not exaggerating here – people who, at the beginning of the documentary, did not know what the acronym GMO stood for are, at the end of the movie, telling us that they should be avoided at all costs.
A lot of effort was made in making this movie seem quaint with its overly simplistic bumbling score and family orientated narrative, but it came off as contrived and disingenuous. Jeremy also subscribes to the cliché Michael Moore “I’m a simpleton” style of documentary film making which, on a personal note, I find particularly irritating. This is because I believe when covering “controversial” subjects you have to make the effort to talk to the people who may be able to answer your questions. Randomly turning up at some small Monsanto building, as Jeremy does, hoping to get an interview with a scientist or spokesperson from Monsanto is juvenile and makes the documentary a farce.
The movie was also full of set-ups that had no pay off. For example, he made GMO detection goggles for his sons to wear that made up about five minutes of the documentary which went……absolutely nowhere, he travelled to Norway to visit Svalbard Global Seed Vault which was completely pointless (in fact I don’t think we ever saw any footage of him in the vault, leading me to believe he was denied access), and he made a big song and dance about getting angry with Monsanto but then all he did was walk into some random Monsanto building as I said above for all of 5 minutes before being told politely to leave.
Having said all that, this movie does stand out from other anti-GMO documentaries I have seen in the past. Not only is it shot really well and contains pretty graphics, but it also gives valid counter-arguments against the anti-GMO movement, and explains why some people are pro-GMO. Yes, Jeremy either dismisses or flat out ignores these counter-arguments and hopes that the audience forgets about them, but the fact that they are there at all shows that Jeremy has a level of credibility far above the likes of Gary Null et al.
From a science point of view, the little of it featured was no different from any other anti-GMO documentary. It’s full of mistakes with the most embarrassing being when Jeremy says that fish that eat GMOs will then themselves become GMOs. There are also several occasions throughout the documentary where Jeremy is flat out lying about GMO research and GM-food safety investigations. As you would expect, there is a fair bit of anti-GMO hysteria, which I think is meant to frighten the viewer but instead had me in stitches. There was one part in particular that had my sides splitting – when Jeremy felt it necessary to dress himself and his two sons in full hazmat gear in order for them to play in his parents’ GM-corn fields. In hindsight, I am not sure what Jeremy’s point was other than to hammer in the fact that his parents’ corn can produce Bacillus thuringiensis delta-endotoxins, which are pesticides. He never goes into detail about this pesticide; nor does he talk about its mode of action and how it is harmless to humans. He also never talks about how these pesticides are used in organic farming – something which he promotes throughout the documentary.
The movie is also full of familiar faces. Like Vandana Shiva who is the Nicolas Cage of anti-GMO movies, as I believe she has not turned down the chance to be in one yet, and Gilles-Éric Séralini – the lead author of the highly discredited paper “Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize”. Jeremy actually travels to France to speak to Séralini and after interview, remarkably mentions faults with the paper. He says that “There may be legitimate criticisms of Séralini’s study. The number of rats and the kind used” however, he unfortunately follows it up with “But shouldn’t his discoveries give us pause”. Jeremy never goes into detail about why Séralini’s study does not make scientists pause for thought. He never mentions that the Sprague-Dawley rats used in the study are known to spontaneously grow tumours. The paper “Spontaneous Tumours in Sprague-Dawley Rats and Swiss Mice” investigates the likelihood of tumour development in these rats, and found that 45% of the rats in its experiment (179 males and 181 females – a larger group than the Séralini paper) developed tumours in an 18-month period (a shorter time than Séralini paper). Jeremy also does not talk about how the paper shows that if you’re male and you drink Round-Up herbicide, you will live longer.
In closing, the movie was very disappointing and I would not recommend you watch it. Yes, it was the first time I have ever seen an anti-GMO documentary raise valid counter points, and yes it does have one of the best movie titles of all time, but this does not make up for the fact that it’s incredibly dull. As I said at the beginning, this movie is mostly padding and very little is dedicated to why you should be against GMOs. What’s worse (and unforgivable) is that the movie does not end with a rap like my all time favourite anti-GMO movie ’Seeds of Death’ but instead we are treated to an oddly sexual dance from some random woman………go figure!