Do we feed our children toxic food?
That’s one of the basic questions Jeremy Seifert explores in his latest documentary, GMO OMG. This fascinating new film investigates the importance of seed diversity, the history of genetically modifying food, and the destructive systems in America that often leave us in the dark about what we eat. Most importantly, GMO OMG discusses the freedom of choice we—and our children—should be granted.
Seifert sat down with KIWI magazine to talk more about his film. Check out the trailer and our Q&A, below:
Q. Tell us how you became interested in GMOs.
A. In 2011, I went to Haiti and was really fascinated because I saw firsthand their desperation, hunger, and poverty. They were burning seeds that had been distributed to them from Monsanto, and I wondered why they would they destroy something they needed to feed their families—why make such a strong stance? I had a hunch that they weren’t just doing it for a political stunt. They had a real issue with GMOs. I felt like there was some kind of film I wanted to make, and I needed to listen to them—then figure out what was next.
Q. What was your “ah-ha” moment, when you realized you wanted to make a documentary about your family and GMOs?
A. Right after Haiti, I decided to do a road trip with my wife and two sons to talk with farmers. I was planning a more traditional documentary, where you just cover the issue, but then I realized this was extremely personal. I needed to turn the camera on my family. So I bought a Volkswagen van, and packed them into it. I think the “ah-ha moment” was when I realized this is a personal story—so [the film] needed to be personal.
Also, as I was editing, I began to understand that this topic could transcend any political party. This is important to the grandma in Wisconsin, or the banker in New York—everybody eats everyday. It’s the most intimate relationship we have with the Earth around us.
Q. If you could have a 5-minute conversation with the CEO of Monsanto, what would you ask him?
A. Do you eat your own product, and do you feed it to your kids and your family? Are GMOs completely safe, not only for human health, but also for the environment? And finally, why are you pursuing this form of agriculture, instead of organic, which has been proven to produce equivalent yields? These large corporations are not asking the right questions.
Q. Besides the possible health risks, where are your issues with GMOs?
A. Even if they say GMO’s are actually good for us—even if we discover years from now that they are perfectly safe—I would have an issue with them because:
- Nobody knows what we are consuming. There’s a deep-seeded ignorance about our food and where it comes from. I would still have a problem with the secrecy and the fact that companies are unwilling to label GMOs.
- I’d have a problem with the patenting of seeds. Farmers should save seeds and share seeds—that’s how seeds develop so many wonderful traits.
- Just like the biodiversity of life and seeds, we should have that same diversity in farms and what is being grown. There should be millions of farmers—not less farmers than prisoners in the USA.
Q. Many European companies have already placed restrictions on GMOs. How can we make this an important topic in America?
A. GMOs have been labeled in over 60 countries around the world, including China—and those labels aren’t here. There used to be a line in the film that said: “I learned that the new reality of the world is that chemical companies are feeding us and our children.” Are you OK with that new reality? Do you want to know about it? We are a democracy, but this system only works if we participate. Right now, there are labeling initiatives in over 20 states. We can vote for this, and demand our right.
Q. What can we do on a daily basis?
A. We, as parents, have this amazing power. We all eat three times a day, and we have the power to choose what those meals are going to be. We should invest in systems that are healthy and nontoxic, which ultimately means we are choosing to buy organic. And when that isn’t an option? We look for whole food, local food, or real fruits and vegetables.
The “ignorance is bliss” mentality only works for so long. But when a woman gets pregnant, and fully understands that what she eats goes into (and affects) the development of a growing human being, she wakes up. We all wake up.