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GMO OMG: Mop Tops Take on Monsanto

GMOs–aka genetically modified organisms–weren’t on GMO OMG filmmaker Jeremy Seifert’s radar till he and his wife Jen became parents and assumed the awesome responsibility of nourishing three young children. How much genetically modified food were they unknowingly feeding their kids? Are these foods safe to eat? Are GM crops safe to grow? Read more

“Vanishing of the Bees” Reveals an Ongoing Struggle for Pollinator Populations

Four years ago, the United States government held the first congressional hearing on Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), an as yet unknown affliction responsible for the devastating and sudden losses of native honeybees, which mysteriously disappear and never return to their hives. While the news has been relatively silent on CCD the past couple of years, there’s been a resurgence of other media around this phenomenon, including “Vanishing of the Bees,” a documentary film directed by George Langworthy and Maryam Heinen and narrated by actress Ellen Page (“Inception” and “Juno”). Read more

A Film that Explores The Economics of Happiness

The new documentary screening around the country The Economics of Happiness says everything it should say. Ambitiously, it attempts to explain the many downsides of economic globalization, while offering actual alternatives that the viewer can get behind, and (for a movie just a little over an hour long) it does this concisely and without too much dreadful hyperbole or schmaltz. For this I am thankful. All too often, environmental themed movies rely on over-exaggerations, simplifications, and a preaching-to-the-choir sentimentalities–which result in a product unlikely to perform the educational (that’s entertainingly educational) role it was made for. Read more

The Troubled Waters of Big Ag’s Academic Influence

Last month, the University of Minnesota caused a stir when it decided to postpone the release of a film that focuses on the effect agriculture is having on U.S. waterways from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. Troubled Waters–a film directed by Larkin McPhee for the University’s Bell Museum of Natural History, part of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences–was held up, according to University Relations (the university’s PR office) to “allow time for a review of the film’s scientific content.” Yet ace reporting by Molly Preismeyer at the Twin Cities Daily Planet revealed that the film’s team had already thoroughly fact-checked the film, and followed the review process utilized by the PBS science program NOVA. Attempts to get the university to outline a standard procedure for research-based films were not fruitful. Then the story shifted once again when Dean Allen Levine told Minnesota Public Radio that the film “vilifies agriculture.”

Even though the University caved under pressure and allowed the scheduled premiere of the film to take place on October 3 and on October 5 on a local television station, the story of Troubled Waters has developed into a debate on academic freedom and the role a university’s donors should play in its research priorities. Read more

The Garden: A Film, A Call to Action

Last week, I sat riveted at the Horticultural Society of New York while watching a screening of the 2008 Oscar-nominated documentary, The Garden, a tour de force that pits a 14-acre community garden in South Central Los Angeles, run by mostly Latin American immigrants, against a wealthy developer with questionable city ties. A powerful treatise on power and racial discord, The Garden tells the story of farmers who organize to fight back against backroom deals to try and save their green urban oasis. [spoiler alert] Read more