Animal Pharm: Food For Thought

2007, Nature  -   13 Comments
Storyline

Mother Nature can no longer claim total dominion over the future of evolution. Some of the planet's most commonly consumed animals are undergoing extensive genetic manipulation in laboratory settings across the globe. Scientists can create new breeds of cows, chickens and fish that grow faster, leaner and more muscular than ever before. Even fruits and vegetables - the foods we most associate with being wholesome and all-natural - are not what they appear to be. Is this cause for celebration or alarm? The documentary Animal Pharm: Food for Thought explores this and other practical and ethical questions related to the genetic engineering of our food supply.

Biologist Olivia Judson is a vocal proponent of the practice. Throughout the film, she presents her case for continued exploration of this controversial field of science. She argues that our foods have been altered for thousands of years, and cites a series of examples including the changing color of carrots, the creation of the pink grapefruit and the taming of the once poisonous potato.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is journalist and organic food enthusiast Giles Coren. Nature provides all the food the human population needs, he argues. Genetic manipulation of our food is akin to playing with fire. We may have it in our power to control this aspect of the natural world, but what are the moral, ethical and long-term health-related ramifications of doing so?

The dialogue shared by these two studious figures is fascinating, multi-faceted and enlightening. Both points of view are impassioned and, on their own individual merits, persuasive. Along the way, they tour various operations where the boldest examples of genetic research are taking place. We witness chickens that are bred without feathers, rabbits that glow in the dark, championship racehorses that are produced from genetically altered sperm, and experiments with rice that could eradicate the scourge of vitamin A deficiency around the world. We come to recognize how these practices can prove problematic, or ultimately serve as an engine for positive change.

Whether you're enthused or repulsed by this weird science, Animal Pharm: Food for Thought provides a valuable and informed overview of its subject.

Directed by: Jeremy Turner
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Ratings: 7.67/10from 51 users.

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13 Comments / User Reviews

  1. NaturesBest

    @Richard seems to benefit in some way by that industry. And looks to have been eating their food. Imagine how much younger, healthier, and nimble you would look and be if you were an organic food freak.

    Quite hilarious and silly to claim that those preferring organic food to be freaks when Dr. Max Gerson was curing terminal cancer in the 1940's via clearing out the toxin (pesticides and herbicides) from consumption of non-organic food.

    Why not do a minimum of homework to determine if GMO foods contribute to leaky gut syndrome and other maladies?

    Don't mess with mother nature or she will spank you like the little brats you are.

  2. Richard

    The comments here are pretty hilarious. As Olivia points out, all the foods we eat, whether plant or animal, are the products of intentional breeding over thousands of years. Now that we understand genetics extremely well, we have the ability to not only accelerate breeding, but to overcome the bad side effects of selective breeding, hybridization, and mutagenesis (the traditional forms of genetic modification.) We want plants and animals that can withstand climate change, make more efficient use of water, grow faster, and make food that's both tasty and nutritious. Biotech makes these things possible.

    It's also encouraging that the new medicines will be more effective at their intended purpose with fewer side-effects. And for you vegans, foods that have the flavor, texture, and nutrition of meat are already being grown in labs.

    This doco provides good explanations of how these technologies work and makes fun of organic food freaks in the process.

  3. bobby

    The idea of the effects of genetic modification are not cleanly predictable as presented here in this documentary. We understand that GM rice can cure vitamin A deficiency . Vitamin A deficiency can also be cured by eating a carrot. Why then not just eat a carrot? The counter argument to that is the world's environment will not always allow the production of a balanced diet locally. The reason it is not always possible is no more than world politics and the unwillingness of mankind to allow for that to happen. Here's an idea.... if you can grow rice then you can also grow a carrot in the same space. The reason it doesn't happen is a lack of education and adaptation. Applying the reasoning in the film we would have to admit that rice can also be modified to produce protein. olive oil like substance, a full range of B vitamins, and every mineral needed for proper nutrition. Then there would be no need for anything else to be eaten but rice...a monocrop world. What's wrong with that? Nothing. What effect would it have on human genetics? We don't know, just like we don't know now what effect GM is having on people genetically. We don't have to have vitamin A produced by rice when it is available in other foods. Grow other crops. Be educated. The world needs to be educated to have whatever crops are needed to be grown locally or shipped in a dried form just as rice is shipped in a dried form to supply nutrition. Problems always have a simple solution unless people are resistive to reasonable answers or probems are artificially created by governments.

  4. bhavesh

    its reallly interesting basically the cow and rabbits one
    the tecchnique used for the pigs poo was nice
    at last it is amazing fantastic video please watch it

  5. Carole

    It's a crime that living, feeling, intelligent beings are forced to endure this type of abuse in the interest of "science." It's well-known that most broiler chickens today have been genetically manipulated to be huge and that their slender legs cannot sustain that immense weight. This creates immense suffering for these gentle beings. it is immoral and unethical to deliberately create pain and suffering in others. The callousness, selfishness and ego-centrism of scientists that see nothing wrong with this insanity is truly astonishing. I- for one- will always speak for those who have no voice- the animals.

  6. Cindy

    Let's just stop spending all the money on genetic research of this sort and start eating plant based protein which the entire world can benefit from.............plus the environment, sheesh, get over your obsession with eating dead animals

  7. Kay

    and you know what I wish that they would eat all of these fake foods that they love for one year. Strictly. I want to see what they look like afterwards. SMH.

  8. Kay

    I feel very sorry for the animals that's have been subjected to this type of abuse. I don't care what they say, this type of madness is what's wrong with the world. I especially feel sorry for these scientists who are obviously brainwashed into thinking that this sh*t is normal.

  9. Aliyah

    Mr. Rogers,

    My understanding of those last two sentences are called allergies. I have many of them and it would be interesting to see why I have a long list of them. Especially, food. In combination I am a Celiac, and I have an excessively long list of food allergies. Don't get me started on the medical allergies. I have those too.

  10. Matthew Burke

    Hey thats pretty kewl

  11. james

    One more thing you people think you can do better the GOD!!!!!

  12. james

    This is soooo wrong, You people will be judge buy GOD!!! Are food does not tast good any more. high prices for sh*t food. you people will make problems in time. God help us.

  13. Chuck Rogers

    They cannot make me believe that there aren't piggy back genes or DNA initials that can carry a switch which could create toxins, because they don't test for them, and aren't required to test for them. All plants have minute quantities of toxins, naturally, and some of this genetic material could possibly have the switch which makes the toxin be produced in large quantities. I'm not saying it will happen in all species, or specimens, but it can, and I think it probably will at some point in this science. There are other issues, such as our immune systems not recognizing these foods, and attacking them as foreign matter, causing inflammation. I can't prove this, but it hasn't been proven that they don't.