Genetic Roulette – Review

In the United States our food industry is screwed. We have poverty, hunger, obesity, nutrient-poor diets as a mainstay, food allergies, food intolerances, highly-specialized diets by choice, highly-specialized diets by medical necessity, government subsidized nutrient-sparse foods… we run the gamut of issues. We also have an independent film industry attempting to examine every one of these issues. I do not watch every food documentary, but enjoy the more optimistic and less gross-out ones that come my way. Recently I viewed Genetic Roulette by Jeffrey Smith from the Institute for Responsible Technology. This film highlights GMOs, their prevalence in our food supply, and how their presence affects consumers and suppliers.


It is a dense film giving anyone a primer on this topic or ideas of where to find more specialized information. The cast includes many notable personalities who have worked in agriculture, advocacy, and research on the topic.

I have been well-versed in GMOs encroaching in the marketplace for quite a while. My first formal/academic exercise in the topic was in grad school as part of a natural resource conservation class. We looked at Bt that had appeared in agricultural seeds less than a decade prior to discuss the “what-if’s” that science had not acquired long-term data on. I have to admit that the topic of GMOs and were I source food in my food supply has not scared me as it has for some others in recent news trends. I have had the good fortune of knowing how to cook from whole-food products most of my life, I have been weary of toxins and deviations from natural whole foods most of my life, and I have had access and knowledge to avoid a processed diet at home my adult life. Yet for all of this I do have a sugar cane allergy that developed as an adult and do question if it developed from eating out where I did not control the ingredients I consumed. Who knows?

If you are new to food issues and concerned about GMOs in your diet I highly recommend this film. I wrote it is dense – and it is but the film takes a nice approach to educate a wide spectrum of people with varying food knowledge. The film has a good introduction of the topics and is clear about sub-topics it addresses through its duration. About 1/3 of the way into the film there is a review. And then with 20 minutes to go there is an optimistic topic of reversing the GMO-damage that goes over a case study as well as actionable steps consumers can take.

While most Americans are concerned with personal finances it is easy to gloss over food issues. However those questioning the rise in gut disorders since the 90s should watch this film. Those questioning exactly what “voluntary compliance” means when the FDA tells companies genetically engineering seeds that they could be their own watchdogs should watch this film. Those questioning why the USA is one of the few industrialized nations that allows these foods into our marketplace without labeling should watch this film.

Personally I have never bought the fallacy that GMOs are needed to feed the world, especially in the US when we cannot adequately feed ourselves right. I believe the feeding the world b.s. is a marketing ploy/scare tactic propagated by companies including the very powerful Monsanto that just last week snuck a long-term rider to stay in business without legal constraints or ramifications into a short-term budget bill that passed in our government.

For those asking where all the conclusive scientific proof is that this kind of engineering is bad for our collective health I can counter with a couple of thoughts. It is hard to tease apart GMOs from all the other invasive, manmade influences in our lives due to complex synergisms. Researchers who attempt to do conclusive research are urged (sometimes violently or financially) not to do such work since biotech companies fund a lot of academic departments (something I learned early on watching Tyrone Hayes fight with it out at UC Berkeley over atrazine and amphibians). And long-term controlled studies on humans are hard to start as well as keep going.

For other bloggers looking to view and post about this film consider applying for link to be sent to you. For the general public you can support the filmakes with a $2.99 donation to view the film online or buy a DVD copy.

Educating ourselves about how our food supply is sourced can be a scary and overwhelming prospect since there is so much money and misinformation abound. However living with long-term consequences of when food makes you sick can be expensive and deadly. I urge for people to educate themselves about the one thing we vote on with our dollars multiple times during a week.

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