Revealing the source: Documentary explores GMOs in food

REVEALING THE SOURCE: "Once we know and demand to know where our food comes from and what’s in it, we’ll be much better off, " says Carol Koury about the recent screening of the documentary film GMO OMG. Photo by Chris Smith
REVEALING THE SOURCE: "Once we know and demand to know where our food comes from and what’s in it, we’ll be much better off, " says Carol Koury about the recent screening of the documentary film GMO OMG. Photo by Chris Smith

The opening of this film is important because it’s telling a David and Goliath story,” says Carol Koury about the screening of the documentary GMO OMG, presented by the Organic Growers School on Tuesday, April 22, in honor of Earth Day at Asheville Community Theater.

Koury, the founder and owner of Sow True Seed in Asheville and a featured panelist at the documentary’s local debut and community forum, continues: “We are losing control of our food sources. Something like three-quarters of all commercial seed in the country and in much of the world are controlled by 10 companies and it’s all patented. Actually, more than half by five companies, and one-quarter by one.

“People need to find out because it’s not entirely hopeless,” she adds. “We can take back our food sources one garden at a time. Once we know and demand to know where our food comes from and what’s in it, we’ll be much better off. People will make much better choices.”

GMO OMG, directed, written and edited by food activist and filmmaker Jeremy Seifert (who recently relocated to Asheville from Los Angeles, and directed the acclaimed independent film DIVE!, Living Off America’s Waste, 2010) is an alarming, poignant, thought-provoking and touching documentary that follows Seifert across the country and the globe as he investigates the impact of Genetically Modified Organisms –– and the subsequent loss of seed diversity –– on our planet, our health and our freedom.

Seifert’s quest begins at home. As a father concerned about the health of his three children, he wondered about the effects of GMOs on his family, and whether it is possible to feed them without participating in a food system dominated and controlled by multinational agriculture biotechnology corporations. These questions propel him on an investigation that illuminates the complex and haunting issues that surround the systematic corporate takeover of the most essential element of life: food.

GMO OMG is shocking in that it exposes the depth of our collective ignorance when it comes to the food we eat, how it is produced and its potentially catastrophic impact on the planet and our health. Today, there are “420 Million Acres of GMOs [grown] worldwide,” according to GMO OMG’s website, and “the United States is the world leader in genetically engineered crop production, with 165 million acres, or nearly half of global production. Currently in the United States, about 85 percent of all processed foods contain GMOs.” The health effects of this, the film points out, are still unknown. Another issue of grave concern illustrated in the documentary, is the lobbying power that has successfully suppressed labeling of genetically engineered foods in the United States.

This film screening is “all about education,” says Chris Smith, community coordinator for Sow True Seed. “The biggest threat probably isn’t from Monsanto but from our ignorance. The more of these events that we can have the better educated people will be, the better informed decisions they can make, the better the community will be to deal with any problems that we face whether its GMOs or climate change.”

Education is key,” agrees Jennifer Cloake, communications coordinator for the Organic Grower’s School. “We benefit from living in a country where with every dollar you spend you’re casting a vote, and it’s our responsibility to be as educated as we possibly can about how we’re casting our votes. These sorts of events educate people about what they’re supporting because it’s so easy to support something you absolutely wouldn’t want to [support] without even knowing it. Food is the most powerful medicine or poison that we don’t know we’re taking every single day.”

The event,” says Cameron Farlow, Farmer Program’s coordinator with the Organic Growers School, “touches upon a lot different things, and its a way of bringing people together over something that’s important to our health as individuals and our health as a community, and the health of our agricultural industry and practices.”

It’s a pretty earth-shaking issue,” says Louise Heath, a volunteer and organizer of local March Against Monsanto demonstrations and a member of the local nonprofit Do Not Alter. “If you don’t have clean water, clean food the way it was created to be, and clean air, you’re pretty much baked. I think everybody here feels like we’re saving the planet. The March Against Monsanto is more than a march against Monsanto, it’s a march for a GMO-free North Carolina and world.”

The next march will be held at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, May 24, at Pack Square, followed by the Local Food and Farm Festival.

For more information about GMO OMG and to watch the trailer, click here.

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About Aiyanna Sezak-Blatt
Aiyanna grew up on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. She was educated at The Cambridge School of Weston, Sarah Lawrence College, and Oxford University. Aiyanna lives in Asheville, North Carolina where she proudly works for Mountain Xpress, the city’s independent local newspaper.

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