On August 9, the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) and Arent Fox hosted a screening of Food Evolution, a new documentary film by Academy Award-nominated director Scott Hamilton Kennedy and narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson. The screening was attended by a cross-section of stakeholder groups representing food companies, agribusiness, biotechnology and the science community.
Food Evolution, which was funded by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), addresses the controversy surrounding GMOs and food by spotlighting the significant gap between public opinion and scientific consensus on the safety and benefit of genetically engineered crops.
The film demonstrates how the debate has become polarized, marked by fear, distrust and confusion by featuring scientists and advocates from both sides of the issue as they interact with the public, and with each other at conferences and debate forums. Among other points, Food Evolution also explains how genetic engineering saved the papaya industry in Hawaii, and how it has the potential to address a bacterial disease in bananas in Uganda.
A lively panel discussion followed the screening and included Dr. Alison van Eenennaam, a Cooperative Extension Specialist on Animal Genomics and Biotechnology in the Department of Animal Science at the University of California at Davis, who was featured in Food Evolution and Dr. Clint Nesbitt, Director of Regulatory Affairs, Food and Agriculture at BIO.
In addition to revealing details about the filming process, the panel discussion focused on how to best engage the public in scientific discourse, especially on how to communicate science more effectively on controversial topics such as GMOs.
Arent Fox would like to thank those who attended the screening and BIO for its partnership in co-hosting this event.