A documentary that takes aim at the business of genetically modified food will debut Friday at Shattuck Cinemas.
In making The Future of Food, Filmmaker Deborah Koons Garcia traveled in Canada, Mexico and the United States, lending a critical eye to wha t she sees as a corporate drive to control the world’s food supply.
“I thought people should find out what was happening so we don’t lose control over the food we eat,” said Koons, a Mill Valley resident, and the widow of Grateful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia.
The film is one of the first feature length documentaries to critique how the increasing use of genetically modified seeds might affect independent farmers and human health.
Featured prominently in the film is UC Berkeley professor Ignacio Chapela. In 2001, Chapela published in the journal Nature findings that genetically modified corn had unintentionally contaminated native corn in Oaxaca, Mexico.
Chapela, who traveled to Mexico with Koons Garcia, will be on hand at Friday’s premier screening to field audience questions.
Koons Garcia said the film took three years and several hundred thousand dollars to make. The funding came exclusively from Jerry Garcia’s estate.
“It felt like it was the most responsible thing I could do with the money,” said Koons, who has directed several feature and documentary films and was the creative consultant for the Jerry Garcia retrospective, Grateful Dawg.
Koons Garcia said she hoped her new film, which has already debuted in New York, Los Angeles and Oaxaca, Mex ico, would encourage viewers to support local organic farmers and help spur an effort to label genetically modified food in grocery stores. A labeling bill sponsored by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) and Sen. Barbara Boxer has so far failed to garner support in either legislative chamber, she said.
After several years of research, Koons Garcia said she was most surprised by the lack of health tests performed on the genetically modified foods.
“There are elements that have never been in food before and aren’t being tested,” she said.
Koons Garcia makes no bones that the documentary takes a strong anti-genetic engineering stance. Her biggest target is agri-business giant Monsanto, which she says is buying up the world’s seed supply.
Monsanto refused interv iew requests for the film, but agri-business firms have bought four copies of the documentary, she said.
“They still haven’t acknowledged me, but I know they know about it,” she said.
The Future of Food is scheduled to run for one week at Shattuck Cin emas, 2230 Shattuck Ave., beginning Friday. Showtimes Friday will be 7:10 p.m. and 9:20 p.m. A question-and-answer session with Koons Garcia and Chapela will follow the early show. For show times on other days, see www.landmarkthreatres.com or call 644-2992.