A new documentary called Food Evolution premiered Friday in New York City amid a flurry of controversy. It was bound to happen, given that the film, created by the Institute of Food Technologies and narrated by Neil DeGrasse Tyson, has one dire message: Whether we like it or not, we will not be able to feed the world without genetically modified foods. The film itself acknowledges how hard it’s going to be to change people’s minds about GMOs. Proof of just how staunchly the anti-GMO community will defend its beliefs has played out online in the days since the trailer was released.
The backlash hit Twitter the hardest. Since the trailer’s release on May 10, farmers, wellness coaches, and anti-GMO advocates have accused the film of toting lies and propaganda, finishing their tweets off with hashtags like #FakeNews and #AlternativeFacts. They have also tweeted that GMOs are a public health concern, posting articles articles alleging that GMOs cause diseases.
While many of these people believe GMOs are harmful to humans, the scientific community disagrees. Director Scott Hamilton Kennedy and producer Trace Sheehan have stated that their film is meant to “inform a fact-based public dialogue about our food system.” Experts in the film tell viewers to “look at the consensus of experts” rather than single sources because there is no proof that GMOs are a health hazard. The real food crisis, according to the film, is world hunger, and our survival depends on advances in agriculture — including the creation of GMOs. With the growing world population and the effects of climate change, the challenge now is growing enough food for everyone.
It’s on this key point — that everyone’s lives are at stake — that the future of food hinges. While it’s imperative to change the minds of anti-GMO advocates, attacking their ideas isn’t going to get them to understand; we’ve learned that the best way to do so is to emphasize that the conversation isn’t meant to be polarizing but rather a way to optimize outcomes for everyone. Food Evolution, it seems, has got this point right; the issue, now, is figuring out how the film can reach the people that need to see it.