Last night I watched the movie Food, Inc. With varying degrees of clarity, I have had small knowledge about some of the horrors that go into our food production and consumption. But the movie brought it into focus with grisly detail. In the future, I plan on being much more careful about the meat I pick at the very least. And the movie made me want to boycott any product ever touched by Monsanto. One of the more fascinating and troubling parts of the film has to do with the patenting of gene sequences that allows a company like Monsanto to prevent famers from saving their seed from previous crops to grow new ones without licensing from them. The movie detailed a story of one farmer who does not use Monsanto modified soybeans but all the farmers around him do. Because of the natural environment, it is likely that some of his crops will have the modified seeds (and his neighbors crops some of his seed). Monsanto runs “random verification” of crops tantamount to accusing him of being a criminal. Given proper testing, I don’t personally have any inherent issues with genetically modified foods. After all, every cross breeding of plants since Mendel is a form of genetic engineering. But testing should be much more thorough and the idea that once paid for you would have to relicense your own seed every year is troubling. The idea of being able to patent forms of life is troubling. Some of the other aspects of the movie dealt with the intimidation of people who wish to speak out against these industries, and the legal instruments used to silence dissent. I think this movie is a must see for any American, stomach turning though it is. The industrialization of our food production is making us less healthy in a variety of ways, and coupled with lax enforcement of safety standards, actively killing us. As with most things in the US, our obsessive need to have the most quantity at the lowest prices have guided us to this place without stopping to consider the hidden costs of our actions and habits.
The website for the movie has an excellent roundup of some of the issues.