The Future of Food Deborah Koons Garcia

Were this film called The Truth About Food, it would scare a number of people away. Some would rather live in ignorance than know what our food could potentially do to us. The praises listed on the outside of this DVD's packaging say that this film is "a must see for anyone who eats food." While there is a lot of enlightening material on genetic engineering, there is an equal amount of fear mongering. The first segment plays out like an educational film shown to schoolchildren in the '60s. There is no introduction; instead it jumps right into the history of food and farming practices. The imagery is stock footage straight out of the '50 and '60s, and the narrator is very matter-of-fact. You automatically get the feeling you're watching something educational. It isn't until the film gets to the individual stories of farmers who have been victimised by agricultural product marketer and manufacturer Monsanto that it starts to get interesting. The plight of Percy Schmeiser is particularly heartbreaking and aggravating. Schmeiser, a Saskatchewanian farmer dragged through the courts by this corporation, got into trouble with them because some of their canola was found growing in his field. They claimed this was in infringement on their patent. Even though the seeds accidentally blew into his field, he was still fined. The film, and all of the experts interviewed, argues that the ability to patent living organisms has caused nothing but problems, and the lack of government regulations on genetic engineering is only going to cause more. While all of the information is good to know, some of it makes you want to build your own community on an island far away. The only solution the film attempts to give, and only in the last five minutes, is to shop for organic food. This may be good advice, but suggesting that this is the only alternative seems like propaganda for organic farmers. The second disc contains the special features. Most of them are written information about farmers markets, healthy eating and sustainable farming with links to relevant websites, but much like the film itself, the best parts are the profiles of the farming families. Since Monsanto is so litigious, the people behind The Future of Food must have good lawyers. (Lily Films)