Release Date:July 24,2012
An eye-opening look at the world of genetically modified foods through the lens of New Mexicos iconic chile pepper. The chile pepper defines New Mexican cuisine and is considered a sacred plant by many cultures. Despite overwhelming evidence of gene flow, persistent safety questions, predatory multinational agribusiness corporations and potential economic damage, the State of New Mexico funded research to produce a GMO chile, which is a first time for a US state. Because the funding is public, filmmaker Chris Dudley, was able to force a rare interview with a genetic researcher at NMSU. This film is packed with information about the harmful use of GMO technology and the ignorance shown by the proponents of GMO crops.
New Mexican cuisine is defined by its chile pepper from internationally recognized restaurants to the smallest taco trucks, they each rely on this spicy ingredient. At the Plant Genetic Engineering Laboratory on the campus of New Mexico State University (NMSU), with funding from the state legislature, scientists are developing a genetically modified chile pepper. Their efforts to create an engineered chile have caused immense controversy due to the social, economic and marketing factors that are impacted by the production and the modifications of other potential seeds for future production. On July 24, 2012, Cinema Libre Studio will release GENETIC CHILE on DVD and digital platforms, a documentary that provides an in-depth overview of the dangers of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).
In 2008, due to a series of events that damaged chile production (including pollen drift, gene flow, crop migration, safety questions, weed resistance, cultural imperialism, predatory multi-nationals and increasing popular distrust), New Mexicos elected representatives (after previously signing a document preventing the genetic contamination of native seeds) relented and sponsored the funding of genetic chile research and production. By allowing GMO production, they put their state at a disadvantage to international trade. Over 100 countries in the Europe Union prohibit plants whose DNA is modified by techniques of biotechnology. Consequently, the EU may require testing for all chiles from New Mexico.
GENETIC CHILE addresses the question of whether or not GMOs will help farming become more sustainable. Stephen Hanson, PhD, a NMSU Genetic Engineer working on the project, says that their intent is to provide a benefit to the chile producers. If they can give them a crop that allows them to farm more sustainably and more productively, then thats their goal. One major repercussion from GMO production is the increased cost of seeds, which a majority of small farmers cannot afford and which has put them out of business. This has caused a domino effect in agriculture worldwide. The high cost of farming has increased the cost of food to where people can no longer afford to eat.
The film explains how the World Food Program revealed in 2010 that more than 1 billion people worldwide are hungry due to increased food prices. The World Hunger Organization calculates that 30 million people starve to death every year - the majority of them being children and that 90% of their countries are net exporters of food to wealthy nations. In 2008, The International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development compiled a 600 page report, issued by the United Nations, the World Heath Organization and the World Bank, entitled Agriculture at a Crossroads. This globally-inclusive agricultural study is the most comprehensive analysis of agricultural science that directly addresses and recommends solutions to world hunger. The ascertainment concludes that although there have been positive economic benefits from GMOS for large-scale producers; there has been less positive impact for producers in developing countries.
Constance L. Falk, PhD from New Mexico State University Agricultural Economics says the proponents of genetic engineering have misled the public about its benefits and deliberately so. And it hasnt lived up to its promise. They havent increased yields. They havent decreased pesticides use. They havent solved any hunger problems whatsoever. And, so, I dont even understand how people with a straight face can defend genetic engineering.
In the United States, there are thousands of experimental crops with transgenic (genes transferred from another species) pharmaceutical organisms, pieces of human transgenic material, or other profitable attributes. Monsanto, the largest seed company in the world, is the corporate giant responsible for production of many GMO products. Monsanto dominates the American food chain with genetically modified seeds and has sued other farmers in the U.S and Canada for selling or cultivating seeds with their patented genes. They are known as the seed police for their unorthodox tactics over finding small farmers and suing them over patents infringements. The have become one of the biggest threats to farmers on what they want to grow and to consumers on what they want to eat. Controlling the seeds is not some abstraction. Whoever provides the worlds seeds controls the worlds food supply (Barlett & Steele, Vanity Fair).
New Mexicos chile is only an example of what Monsanto and other GMO producers can ultimately do to destroy the natural balance in our food supply.