Film Review: GMO OMG

In this unsatisfying home movie meets documentary hybrid, filmmaker and father Jeremy Seifert seeks to convey the potential danger of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in our foods and the need for legislation requiring accurate labeling of such.

For better or worse, Jeremy Seifert dominates this work, loading it with his voice-over and on-camera presence as he pursues his wobbly investigation into chemical farming and lack of product labeling. Seifert maintains that the loss of seed diversity and laboratory-assisted genetic alterations of food affects the health of our planet, freedom of choice and, not least, his young children.

Serving as guide into this GMO conundrum, Seifert enlists his eldest son (aged five or six) as accomplice and student. Together they tool around the country as Seifert explains the GMO and seed shortage dilemmas, as he sees it. Skirted is the question of whether GMO-afflicted foods are, in fact, dangerous. But we are offered tons of footage from home movies and old family pictures of all his cute kids.

Seifert also travels to giant corporation Monsanto which, along with DuPont and Dow, is in the GMO business. The visit is unsuccessful, but his family detour to Sequoia National Park is nice. He then goes overseas where, in Caen, France, he finds a scientist who has experimented with rats to verify the toxicity of GMOs. Alas, even Seifert acknowledges that the experiment and evidence leave much in question.

What does come across is that companies like Monsanto are contributing to the lack of diversity of seeds that, like pesticides and herbicides, is a bad thing in a healthy food world. Apparently the fact that farmers can’t save seeds even contributes to the depletion of farm communities.

The Monsantos and other biotech companies are also behind the big-money lobbyists who are standing in the way of legislation requiring companies to label GMO foods. Meanwhile, the biotech corporations make the case that their engineering and chemicals allow for a greater quantity of food to be produced. It’s all pretty murky.

Rendered a dollop more digestible by a few animated sequences, GMO OMG amounts to Seifert’s sincere concern to make everyone aware of the potential dangers of GMO—whatever those dangers may be. But with no credible scientists weighing in, the debate on organic vs. chemical farming remains stalemated. Viewer takeaways will depend on a tolerance for vanity fare and need for solid scientific investigation.

That the European Union requires food labeling that IDs GMO ingredients and that countries like Norway and Finland are or strive to be GMO-free amount to little more than a hill of, uh, GMO-free beans. Until research or a better-sourced doc clarifies this matter, pass the peas, whatever their origin, but hold the salt.