The latest addition to that conversation, Jeremy Seifert's documentary "GMO OMG," hopes to break down some of the debate that has led to massive protests, fierce labeling initiatives and a blanket ban in most of the European Union.
GMO labeling bills passed in both Maine and Connecticut earlier this year, but California's highly contentious Prop 37 was rejected by voters last November. Washington has a similar initiative on the ballot this year, I-522, and Monsanto recently pumped $4.6 million into the fight against it.
Several reviews have criticized the film as a "plain-folks primer" that lacks hard scientific analysis. But Seifert said the film "is more about awakening and discovery" in a time where we really don't know what the long-term effects of GMO consumption are.
Seifert spoke to The Huffington Post about the inspiration behind the film.
(The following is an edited transcript of the chat.)
What compelled you to make this film? You tell the story of GMOs through your role as a father -- was there a specific meal you were having with your kids that served as a catalyst?
Yeah, I think that's exactly what it was. It wasn't just a meal, it was many meals and it was the ice cream trucks that would park outside of our house every evening and watching my children lap up this stuff ... and feeling that weight on my shoulders that we don't really know what they're eating.
That is the most important, intimate, beautiful relationship that I have in my life, with my children. On the other hand, food is really the most intimate relationship we have with the world around us. We literally take nature into us, into our bodies.
I also realized the more people I talked to, they were coming from the same place I was coming from, which was a place of ignorance: not knowing what it is, and not understanding it.
What do you hope to accomplish with this?
I think the primary or basic goal is wakefulness and awareness, to raise the consciousness so that people know there's a debate.
In the last decade, we never really had the conversation in this country about GMOs -- what they were, if we were okay with them. We just never had the conversation and they were released on the market and people were eating them blindly because they weren't labeled.
I've found that most people don't even know there's a debate going on, most people don't know what a GMO is. I'm hoping that the film helps people engage with the debate and engage with the issue and engage with the fact that the chemical companies are feeding us, and are you okay with that?
One of the main dilemmas presented in the film is resistance from these GMO manufacturers to talk with you, and the public in general. Were you ever able to get ahold of anyone?
No. I never talked to anybody in big ag, even off camera to just have candid conversations.
Your family is a big part of this documentary. What are your eating habits now?
I mean, we by-and-large try to avoid not just GMOs, but anything that's been sprayed in pesticides and herbicides. So we really try to eat mainly organic, and that is hard.
But when you learn to feed yourself and cook you can do it affordably. We do eat at home most of the time, we do buy whole foods and bulk foods and it is more affordable.
But it's frustrating as hell going to the grocery story and picking up for, you know, Cinco de Mayo. I'm going to buy organic blue corn tortilla chips and organic cheese and organic this and that and suddenly, a tiny grocery bag is $85.
What kind of reactions have you heard so far?
A lot of "Oh my god I never knew about this."
Even though people have said this is really hard to deal with and think about, at the end of the film they felt hopeful rather than just completely pissed off and overwhelmed.
There's been a sense that people feel more empowered to make a change.
"GMO OMG" is now screening in theaters around the country. For a listing of upcoming events and showings, head on over to the film's website.