But it's not really a
tale about wonderful recipes or the preparation of food. Ultimately,
it's a story of capitalism, money and power and how our most basic
rights are being eroded by unscrupulous commercial interests.
Aube says that when her parents bought their first house her mother immediately got rid of the lawn and planted a huge garden where she grew all kinds of heirloom vegetables, berries, flowers, legumes and garlic.
During the film, we are treated not only to various outdoor scenes of the Giroux's food garden (their 'grocery store') but also to Aube and her mother's passion for preparing homemade culinary delights.
The 'backyard' is the
grocery store and much of Giroux family life revolves around the
kitchen and the joy of healthy, nutritious food.
As the GMO issue became prominent, Aube became more interested in the subject.
It took her 10 years to
complete the film, which is about her personal journey of discovery
into the world of GMOs. The film depicts a world that is familiar to
many of us; a place where agri-tech industry science and money talk,
politicians and officials are all too eager to listen and the public
interest becomes a secondary concern.
The report made 53 recommendations to the government for fixing the regulatory system and bringing it in line with peer reviewed science and the precautionary principle, which says new technologies should not be approved when there is uncertainty about their long-term safety.
To date, only three of
these recommendations have been implemented.
We are told about the subverting of regulatory agencies in the US when GMOs first appeared on the scene in the early 1990s:
One respondent says,
Aube takes time to find out about genetic engineering and talks to molecular biologists. She is shown how the process of genetic modification in the lab works.
One scientist says,
And that's very revealing: if you are altering the genetic core of the national (and global) food supply in a way that would not have occurred without human intervention, you had better be pretty sure about the consequences.
Many illnesses can take
decades to show up in a population.
However, across North
America labeling has been fiercely resisted by the industry. As the
film highlights, it's an industry that has key politicians in its
back pocket and has spent millions resisting effective labeling.
To those involved in the
GMO debate and the food movement, these industry talking points are
all too familiar.
To ensure that these products are environmentally safe and safe for human health, you need to monitor them in the marketplace. If you have new allergic responses emerging is it a consequence of GMOs? There's no way of telling if there is no labeling.
Moreover, the industry
knows many would not purchase GM food if people were given any
choice on the matter. That's why it has spent so much money and
invested so much effort to prevent it.
And it has become a sorry tale for those at the sharp end: farmers are now on a financially lucrative (for industry) chemical-biotech treadmill as problems with the technology and its associated chemicals mount:
But to divert attention
from the fact that GM has 'failed to yield' and deliver on industry
promises, the film notes that the industry churns out rhetoric,
appealing to emotion rather than fact, about saving the world and
feeding the hungry to help legitimize the need for GM seeds and
associated (health- and environment-damaging) chemical inputs.
Health Canada has always claimed to have had a science-based GMO regulatory system.
But the Royal Society's
report showed that GMO approvals are based on industry studies that
have little scientific merit since they aren't peer reviewed.
Given this lack of
response and the agency's overall track record on GMOs, it is
pertinent to ask just whose interests does Health Canada
Aube is a skilful filmmaker and storyteller.
She draws the viewer into her life and introduces us to some inspiring characters, especially her mother, Jali, who passed away during the making of the film. Jali has a key part in the documentary, which had started out as a joint venture between Aube and her mother.
By interweaving personal lives with broader political issues, 'Modified' becomes a compelling documentary.
On one level, it's deeply
personal. On another, it is deeply disturbing given what
corporations are doing to food without our consent - and often -
without our knowledge.
The film might be set in
Canada, but the genetic engineering of our food supply by
conglomerates with global reach transcends borders and affects us
Video-trailer of 'Modified'