Sunday, November 10, 2013

GMO OMG (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway


Director Jeremy Seifert forces us to take a good hard look at our basic foodstuffs. In this case, corn. As it turns out, we may be under attack by the ubiquitous and subtle threat of GMOs (genetically modified organisms) in virtually all our foods. No this is not a Soderbergh or J. J. Abrams sci fi thriller. This is "GMO OMG" a documentary that examines the conquest of the Monsanto corporation on nearly all of The Americas and the Caribbean.

At the time of Haiti's earthquake, Monsanto offered to give the country plantable seeds as a sustainable food source. Haiti promptly rejected the offer, burning the seeds in protest. They reasoned that such a genetically modified and corporate seed would strip the crops of their history, essentially wiping out or at least profoundly diluting their national culture.

It was a successful revolt so far.

No hard sanctioned science is yet available about GMOs and what they actually are, however the overall academic consensus is that these crops are patented and injected with some hi-tech and almost postmodern pesticides.

According to the documentary, nearly 80% of all corn and soy crops use GMOs or GMO by-products with  a GMO frequency of near 90% with processed foods.

Seifert is a quirky, organically concerned person . Like most, he was  indifferent to GMOs, he accepted them and didn't know what they were.

Then as a new parent (and because his son was crazy about seeds) he began to wonder.

This starts a personal odyssey for Seifert who journeys in protest for answers across the globe, often with his sleepy family in tow. Seifert goes to Paris, to Washington, and Norway.    Like the director Michael Moore, he travels to Monsanto headquarters and is firmly asked to leave. During the film, he takes a kaleidoscopic Ken Kesey approach to his anxiety, dressing up his kids in bio-hazard suits, complete with ventilators and the occasional appearance of GMO goggles which look like a fever dream from a Parrot Head convention. Seifert rightly reasons that new beginnings do start with the young and as a father he strives to make an accessible and festive environmental circus.

Although the outcome of GMOs are not definitive in the mainstream, the French scientist Dr. Gilles-Eric Séralini conducted a two year study on white rats and found a prevalence in tumors and a high percentage of kidney and liver problems in males.

The reasons for engineered crops initially, may well have started harmlessly enough. A field free of bugs and predators with a high yield is tempting. But as "GMO OMG" proposes, this may well have been a Frankenstein's bargain with economic greed as the galvanic charge. We have pests and weeds that are chemical Juggernauts, growing stronger than ever, and the Monsanto company is monopolizing and trademarking nature itself.

The adhesive that holds "GMO OMG"  together is the slickly arresting yet homemade texture of the film with striking animation which resembles a video by Gotye or Beck.

Seifert makes a compelling case to not turn back but move forward, utilizing the technology to go completely organic again as we did in 1800. According to the Rodale Report, in an independent UK study organic crops are proven to be more effective in conditions of climate change and to double their yield in ten years.

In watching "OMG GMO", you might actually feel your skin tighten and curl as you existentially peer into your popcorn bag for an unreachable answer, grown for Godot.

As Orwellian and strange as this unsavory dilemma is, one should not hold one's salivary tongue hostage. The choice may be divided by two: one as a spliced and genetically fed human with limited knowledge of crop diversity, or the other, to speak up for the free-range and spectral universe of the bean or the seed which spins rooted in the solid ground, as multifarious as stars.

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