CM . . . .
Volume VII Number 18 . . . . May 11, 2001
"Whoever controls the genes controls the twenty-first century." (Jeremy Rifkin)As recent as a decade ago, the idea of gene manipulation and private control of the world's food chain would have still been considered the stuff of science fiction. Today, however, the current dramatic growth in the biotech industry means such concepts are now becoming very real for all of us. Yet the lack of public information and involvement has led to criticism of this research, most vigorously in the area of genetically modified foods. The Genetic Takeover attempts to shed light on this criticism which comes from scientists and others who believe that the public good must come before corporate profits.
The Genetic Takeover examines a number of different aspects surrounding genetically modified foods. These include the basic science of gene manipulation, the roles of private corporations and national governments, the impact of GM foods both on farmers and consumers, and the public response to GM foods in Europe compared to North America. Interviews (some subtitled) with critics and leading researchers, such as Jeremy Rifkin and Canada's Michele Brill-Edwards, reveal the secretive nature of for-profit biotechnology and alert the viewer to the long-term consequences of public apathy in the absence of any independent regulatory system. Additional footage, which shows laboratory work in Europe, dairy farm practices in Quebec and relevant new clips from various countries, gives the audience a sense of the debate's far-reaching nature.
While The Genetic Takeover is most suitable for high school ages and up, students as young as grade eight will benefit from the scientific information and general discussion of this "hot button" topic (although some of the more complex socioeconomic ideas may be lost.) Overall, the film is an ideal catalyst for classroom discussion on what is certain to become an increasingly passionate debate in Canada and beyond.
Tom Knutson chairs the Young Adult and Children's Section of the British Columbia Library Association.
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