How to make GMOs

Vandana Shiva, noted environmentalist in 2007,...
Image via Wikipedia

I’m sure you’ve come across the words GMO or generically modified organism at some point, but what does it really mean? Is genetically modified food truly safe for consumption?

My dear friend Taylor McNulty’s been working on a documentary about genetically modified food in India and how it’s adversely affecting the farmers there. She had an amazing opportunity to work closely with a physicist and environmental activist Dr. Vandana Shiva, who created Navdanya, a movement to “protect the diversity and integrity of living resources, especially the native seed, the promotion of organic farming and fair trade“.

To help us understand just how GMOs are made, Taylor asked me to create some simple animation to accompany Dr. Shiva’s explanation of the process. I agreed in a heartbeat. :) Check it out:

Freakonomics the Documentary

It’s no secret that Freakonomics was a wildly successful book – NY Times Bestseller, follow-up Superfreakonomics and even a great podcast series I often listen to Freakonomics Radio. So it’s no surprise that it caught the attention of Paris Je T’aime producer Chad Troutwine. In fact, it got him so interested, that he’d spent a year stalking the authors, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, so they could work together on bringing the world Freakonomics the Documentary.

With a $3 million budget, the film’s roped in some of the biggest directors in the documentary world to work on the various segments. Names like Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me), Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side), Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing (Jesus Camp) and Eugene Jarecki (Why We Fight) will each take on 15-minute segments to tackle the book’s various chapters.

Now just over 2.5 years since the idea was first announced, those of us eager to see it will finally get to as it’ll be the big closing night film at the Tribeca Film Festival come May 2nd. With Magnolia Pictures, which distributed hits like Man on Wire and Food, Inc., already set to distribute Freakonomics the Documentary, I smell another smashing success coming soon.

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Ideas worth spreading: TED Prize winner Jamie Oliver

If you’ve read my previous post on feeding the next generation right, you’ll know that I’ve got great respect for the work that TED Prize winner Jamie Oliver is doing. With TED bringing together the biggest movers and shakers of the country last week, Jamie was there to speak to them with the heart and conviction to educate us all about the very things we put in our mouths.

Learn in 20 minutes what could potentially save thousands of lives. These ideas are truly worth spreading:

It’s really not difficult to stay away from greasy, fatty fast food and sugar-laden soda. For most of us, at least. But for those who live in areas like Chicago’s 3 food deserts, access to fresh produce is very limited. I can see why, with dollar-burgers and dollar-tacos just around the corner, it’s tempting to opt for the faster and cheaper alternative. But when you think about the long-term health implications, these cheap alternatives could cost you so much more in medical bills. However, when you live in a food desert and don’t have a car, taking that one bus that runs through the entire neighborhood 2 hours to a grocery store just isn’t feasible. The only options nearby? Fast food joints and corner drug stores with shelves filled with soda and candy, and where your protein comes in the form of a can of spam. It’s hard to believe that this situation exists in a city like Chicago. What the City officials need to do is work on getting more stores selling fresh produce in these areas.

Add organic food and responsibly-produced food to the mix, and you’ll realize that the benefits reaped – both for yourself and for the environment – are well worth the few extra cents you pay.

Genetically Modified Food Issues in India

My dear friend Taylor is out in the field in India working on a doc about the issue of genetically modified food there. Following the work of Navdanya, a women centred movement for the protection of biological and cultural diversity, she’s started a series of informative videos for the web. Check out her first post!

A great example of the use of media for social change. Go Taylor!

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