Since its June release, Scott Hamilton Kennedy’s Food Evolution documentary has achieved its goal of creating change and bridging the gap between consumers and scientists when it comes to genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
According to Trace Sheehan, producer and writer of the documentary, he film has achieved “more than we ever could have hoped for.”
On AgriTalk, Sheehan spoke with host Mike Adams about the film at the United Dairy Industry meeting in Anaheim, Calif. He and Hamilton were approached by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) about making a film that would create a “constructive conversation” about the role science plays in food. The metaphor was too good for them to pass up.
“How do you make the best decisions?” said Sheehan. “When a new technology comes down the pipeline, are you going to listen to the facts—peer-reviewed repeatable science—or are you going to listen to your tribe and your bubble and your echo chamber and what you read on social media?”
Since Sheehan and Kennedy didn’t have a dog in the fight, they wanted to tell a story that presented facts, conducting Skype interviews with 200 experts on both sides of the aisle.
“When it comes to GMOs, we ran out of things to worry about,” he said. “Most of the arguments are myths and misinformation.”
The reason this fear is so prominent in the consumer population is because they don’t have the time to do the research. He cites Monsanto who didn’t engage with consumers about the benefits of GMOs, rather focusing their attention to selling the technology to farmers who backed it up.
“Farmers weren’t enough to move the needle—the vacuum of information was filled by people who had an agenda.”
The style of storytelling in Food Evolution, narrated by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, is conversation driven, not abrasive. Sheehan thinks this has also helped with the film’s success. There needed to be more effective communication and understand where consumer concerns are, rather than beating them over the head with facts.
“Every scientist we spoke with wants to solve a problem—the science will only get you so far,” he said.
Not only has Food Evolution generated Oscar consideration buzz, it’s also credited to the passing of a bill in Uganda. Sheehan said the film was showed to members of the Ugandan parliament, who were trying to pass a bill to allow GMO technology into the hands of farmers. A few weeks ago, that bill passed.
“We all want safe, sustainable, nutritious food supply for the most amount of people,” he said. “Genetic engineering is one way to help us get there.”
Hear his full discussion on AgriTalk above.