The Future of Food
|The Future of Food|
|Directed by||Deborah Koons Garcia|
|Written by||Deborah Koons Garcia|
|Narrated by||Sara Maamouri|
|Music by||Todd Boekelheide|
|Edited by||Vivien Hillgrove|
The Future of Food is a 2004 American documentary film written and directed by Deborah Koons Garcia to describe an investigation into unlabeled, patented, genetically engineered foods sold in grocery stores in the United States for the past decade. In addition to the US, there is a focus on Canada and Mexico.
The film voices opinions of farmers in disagreement with the food industry, and details the impacts on their lives and livelihoods from this new technology, and the market and political forces that are changing what people eat. The farmers state that they are held legally responsible for their crops being invaded by "company-owned" genes. The film generally opposes the patenting of living organisms, and describes the disappearance of traditional cultural practices.
It also criticizes the cost of a globalized food industry on human lives around the world. It states that international companies are gradually driving farmers off their land in many countries, that monoculture farming might lead to global dependence of the human race on food corporations, and that there is an increased risk of ecological disasters caused by a reduction of biological diversity. For example, the local varieties of Mexican corn are being replaced by subsidized US corn.
The film also describes a fear of major losses to local food systems and states that these gene banks will no longer be available to save global industrial agriculture when a new pest arises, and that if they spread to plants in the wild, terminator genes could lead to a widespread catastrophe affecting the food supply. Legal stories reported by the film related how a number of farmers in North America have been sued by the Monsanto Company.
- Dr. Charles M. Benbrook as Himself, former Director of National Academy of Science Board on Agriculture
- Ignacio Chapela as Himself, microbal ecologist at University of California Berkeley
- Exequiel Ezcurra as Himself, Director of National Institute of Ecology, Mexico
- Louise Gale as Herself, Greenpeace International
- Dave Henson as Himself, founder, Program on Corporation, Law and Democracy
- Andrew Kimbrell as Himself, executive director, Center for Food Safety
- Percy Schmeiser as Himself
- Louise Schmeiser as Herself
- Fred Kirschenmann as Himself, director of The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture
- Marc Loiselle as Himself
- Paul Muller as Himself
- Rodney Nelson as Himself
- Darrin Qualman as Himself, National Farmers Union, Canada
- Judith Redmond as Herself,
- Jorge Soberon as Himself, director, National Commission of Bio Safety, Mexico
- Terry Zakreski as Himself, attorney for Percy Schmeiser
- archive footage
- George W. Bush as Himself
- Dan Quayle as Himself, Vice President & Chair of Council on Competitiveness
- Grace Booth as Herself, Allergic to Genetically Modified Corn
The film was written and directed by Deborah Koons Garcia, produced by Catherine Butler and Koons Garcia, and premiered on September 14, 2005 at Film Forum in New York City to a full house. It has since been released on DVD in both NTSC and PAL formats.
Determined through multiple reviews, Rotten Tomatoes gave the film an overall Tomatometer score of 84%, and offered their 'Critics Consensus': "The Future of Food is a one-sided, but revelatory documentary about the dangers of genetically modified food."
Wesley Morris of The Boston Globe made a tongue-in-cheek comparison to the horror genre by writing "Anyone looking for a more practical horror film than The Fog should try The Future of Food, a new documentary about the slippery slope of genetic modification in agriculture", and shared that in 1998 Monsanto publicly abrogated any responsibility for ensuring the long-term safety of their GMO products and passed that responsibility to the Food and Drug Administration.
Variety wrote that the film "is a disturbing — if somewhat bland and partisan — study of agribusiness’ aggressive push for genetically-modified food,"  and expressed "it’s a shame writer-director Deborah Koons Garcia opts to show only one side of the argument".  They also felt that seen as "a rallying cry for organic and slow-food fans everywhere",  the film would find a large audience "in public interest tube play and activist vid circulation."
The Georgia Straight speaks toward Deborah Koons Garcia advocacy and her opposition to the genetic engineering done by Monsanto. While noting the film's beginning awkwardly with Koons-Garcia's pointing the finger of shame at the political motivation of Monsanto, they concluded it "gets slightly more hopeful as it goes along".
San Francisco Chronicle wrote the filmmaker "has taken a complex subject and made it digestible for anyone who cares about what they put into their stomachs," but also noted that "Monsanto will attack Garcia's documentary as a piece of unbalanced journalism".
Victoria Gilman of Chemical & Engineering News criticized the lack of balance in the film, noting that Garcia defended farmers being deprived of the ability to raise non-GMO canola oil despite canola oil itself being an creation of genetic engineering using the science at the time.
The Organic Consumers Association quoted a lengthy article in Wired, and for OCA, its author Jason Silverman wrote the film "is Inspiring the Anti-GE Movement in America". In their later review, OCA called the film "an engaging and lucid presentation of not only the science of genetic engineering, but of the people and the politics behind what looks to be a pitched battle to control the global food supply". They shared how documentary filmmaker Deborah Koons Garcia spent 3 years making her film, based on an idea which came to her after her educational series All About Babies and stemming from a long time concern she has over food production and safety. Her goal was to produce a cross between Rachel Carson's Silent Spring and Gillo Pontecorvo's Battle of Algiers. In praising the project, they wrote "In less skillful hands, a film about genetically modified (GM) food could have been tough sledding for regular folks to sit through."
New York Daily Newsgave the film 3 stars and spoke toward the film's tone, writing "Garcia's somber narration is a turnoff, but this plucky little diatribe gets you thinking about the larger implications facing future generations".
The Hollywood Reporter wrote the film "is a powerful, if one-sided, attack on the GM food industry," because the filmmaker "builds a strong case against GM food and its producers", but a "major weakness is that the GM producers are not given time to explain their side of the story."
Seattle Times noted that the film used "every propagandist trick in the book", supported by "foreboding background music", and a "relentlessly downbeat tone and gloom-and-doom hand-wringing over the way corporate greed is poisoning the globe" to force their point across, and wrote "Most of us have some awareness about the debate over genetically engineered food. But it’s a good bet that far fewer people know how insidious these possibly dangerous man-made organisms have become as their invasion into the world’s food supply grows".
The Denver Post referred to the film as a "propaganda documentary", and commented that while the film's concept had great possibilities with hopes that it would "become a worthy champion of the little guy" in its covering of Percy Schmeiser's battle with Monsanto, the film failed because "filmmaker Deborah Koons Garcia isn't much of a journalist" and she "strays from this fascinating case to a generalized attack on biotechnology and corporate farming", through using "loose accusations and emotionally dishonest footage to argue her cause".
Awards and nominations
- 2005, won WFCC award as 'Best Documentary: Above and Beyond' by Women Film Critics Circle
- 2005, won Audience Award as 'Best Documentary Film' at Ashland Independent Film Festival
- Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life
- Deconstructing Dinner
- The Jungle
- A Place at the Table
- Food, Inc.
- Holden, Stephen (14 September 2004). "When Food From the Laboratory Leaves a Bitter Taste". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
- Booth, Michael (20 October 2005). "Food for lazy thought". The Denver Post. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
- Havis, Richard James (28 September 2005). "review 'The Future of Food'". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 5 January 2006. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
- Koehler, Robert (3 January 2005). "Review: ‘The Future of Food’". Variety. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
- Curiel, Jonathan (30 September 2005). "Opening today: 'The Future of Food'". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
- Musetto, V.A. (15 September 2005). "'FOOD’ A RECIPE FOR RUIN". New York Post. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
- Bernard, Jami (14 September 2005). "THE FUTURE OF FOOD". New York Daily News. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
- Morris, Wesley (21 October 2005). "A credible case against genetically altered food". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
- Gonzales, Ed (1 September 2005). "The Future of Food". Slant. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
- Robinson, Tasha (14 September 2005). "The Future Of Food". AV Club. Archived from the original on 2 December 2008. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
- Eisner, Ken (1 December 2005). "review: The Future of Food". The Georgia Straight. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
- Gilman, Victoria (19 March 2005). "review: 'The Future of Food'". Chemical & Engineering News. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
- Costa, Temra (2010). Farmer Jane: Women Changing the Way We Eat. Deborah Koons Garcia: Gibbs Smith. pp. 68–72. ISBN 1423605624. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
- Fry`Ted (23 November 2005). ""The Future of Food": Documentary enforces gloom-and-doom message". Seattle Times. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
- Ness, Carol (7 November 2004). "Fighting for the future of food / Deborah Koons Garcia's film documents how genetically engineered foods slipped into our supply". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
- Scheide, R. V. (11 May 2005). "Green Genes 'Future of Food' sheds light on GMO debate". North Bay Bohemian. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
- Albala, Ken (2015). The SAGE Encyclopedia of Food Issues. Media Portrals of Food Issues: Multimedia Food Muckraking: Sage Publications. pp. 952–953. ISBN 1483346293. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
- Dayna, Macy (March 2006). "Say no to GMOs". Yoga Journal: 26. ISSN 0191-0965. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
- staff. "THE FUTURE OF FOOD (2005)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
- Silverman, Jason (8 July 2004). "GMO-Food Foes Turn to Film". Wired. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
- Silverman, Jason (8 July 2004). "New Film "The Future of Food" is Inspiring the Anti-GE Movement in America". Organic Consumers Association. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
- Caruso, Denise (23 August 2004). "New "Future of Food" Movie is a Hit!". Organic Consumers Association. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
- staff. "WOMEN FILM CRITICS CIRCLE AWARDS 2005". Women Film Critics Circle. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
- staff. "Ashland Independent Film Festival 2005 FILM WINNERS". Ashland Independent Film Festival. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
- Official website
- Official trailer
- The Future of Food at the Internet Movie Database
- The Future of Food at AllMovie
- The Future of Food at Rotten Tomatoes
- The Future of Food at Metacritic
- The Future of Food at Box Office Mojo