The Future of Food by Deborah Koons Garcia addresses the rising issue of genetically modified organisms in todays food industry. The documentary serves as a persuasive piece to encourage it's audience to oppose genetically modified foods and to support the a rising movement to require the labeling of genetic alterations in food. Mrs. Garcia carefully utilizes appeals that are kin to only the most versed of persuasive artists. While providing insightful information and exposing major corruption within government entities, the director sways the audience with delicate topics appealing to almost any viewer. The film was directed towards an intended audience of those researching the rising issue in our food industry and takes a standpoint of being firmly against the use of GMOs. Efficiently and effectively The Future of Food appeals to pathos; the intended audience(food conscious, knowledge-seeking consumers and researchers)is reached and persuaded through precisely inserted scenes evoking strong emotions.
The Future of Food are used in an effort to persuade the viewer to disdain GMOs and understand the dangers that are arising in food culture as well as the extinction of the once flourishing American farmer. Within the first ten minutes of the film, the viewer is introduced to Percy Schmeister, a farmer from Saskatchewan, Canada. The director uses this farmer as well as multiple others to let the viewer know that it is the everyday middle-class Americans that are being effected negatively by corporate giant's monopolization of food. The legal trouble seen in all of the farmers in the film intends to evoke dismay within the viewer. Mrs. Garcia understands that nearly any audience can understand the implausibility of combating a major corporation with nearly unlimited resources. If the disheartening farmer's stories aren't enough the director then decides to reach for a soft spot. The documentary cuts to Percy's wife, Louis who explains the financial crippling her family received from dealing with the long and strenuous legal case. Through tears, she struggles through, “...they can just come and do anything to the farm and it is very upsetting, I feel like they have taken our rights away and our privacy...” (The Future of Food)
Mrs. Schmeister's testimony and all of the farmer's testimonies are very unsettling; the director manages to acquire empathy in both instances. The director carefully uses the hardship of all of the families attempting to stand their ground against Monsanto Agriculture Company American to inspire viewers. A great deal of dissent is created towards Monsanto agriculture company as the director captures the scene of the farmers who have been the image of America for generations. The hardworking, family-oriented American farmer is the image that the director chose to be the most emotionally appealing throughout the documentary. The director very effectively is able to pull and push the viewer in two different directions. From one aspect, the viewer is shown the American farmer flourishing and getting food to the tables of families everywhere. From the other you see that same farmer being put through extreme turmoil and anguish as the antagonist(Monsanto) tries to make their careers nearly impossible to continue. Between the pushing and pulling the viewer is hard pressed to be anything, but sympathetic with farmers who have been growing our food without genetic alterations for generations. Not only does the director point towards Monsanto with a negative connotation, but also towards genetically modified foods/seeds on a whole making them the image of why the traditional farmer is gearing towards extinction.
The film uses very subtle aspects of cinematography to add to the emotional appeal of the film. In the beginning of the film scenes of farming are portrayed with soft, uplifting music playing in the background. Transitions are used and the background music becomes grim. The film shows a scene of fighter pilots flying during World War 1. The correlation between the production of Nitrogen bombs and the production of pesticides is then shown. Stating that the same technology for Nitrogen bombs was slightly altered to create pesticides. Again, mood altering music is played in the background and the director chooses to show scenes of crops being sprayed by pesticides followed by cockroaches dying.
The subtle use of background music and flashbacks are extremely effective manipulations of emotions. With nearly subliminal messages, the author has turned the intended audience towards disheartened feelings and sullen emotions. These messages open the film so that you are immediately sympathetic towards the average American farmer from the time of World War I. In these opening scenes, the audience is able to ascertain what the climate of the film is going to incorporate. Whether the viewer is consciously aware of it or not, the director has geared the audience already to be emotionally invested in the film in the direction that the director has intended. The director also puts light, uplifting music in the background during various scenes throughout the documentary while farmers are shown farming their fields in quite a majestic manner. The director powerfully pushes the viewer towards a stance that genetically altered crops are unwanted in American culture. She then pulls them back in towards the farmer who neither alters nor patents his seeds. If the intended audience was not already emotionally charged prior to watching the film, they are consciously and sub-consciously being elicited to sadness and anger all at once.
There are several scenes that are shown depicting the attempts by interest groups to require labeling of foods. One scene shows a commercial of a woman carrying a baby with a farm in the background supporting measure 27. The following scene shows an inaccurate response to the first commercial. A woman nearly identical to the first is shown saying, “The last thing we need is more government red tape, more bureaucracy and higher costs, but that's exactly what Oregon farmer's, consumer's, and taxpayers would get if measure 27 passes the polls.”(The Future of Food). The director then cuts deep as a source is shown in an interview saying, “If you are a mother and you are feeding your baby infant formula and it is not labeled as genetically engineered soy for example and your child has an allergic or toxic reaction, there is no way you are going to know that it is caused by genetic engineering because it's not on the label.”(The Future of Food).
These two commercials may be the most influential scenes of the movie as far as the appeal to pathos is concerned. The director yet again maneuvers grim background music and gives nothing less than an evil connotation to the woman in the commercial and those who sympathize with the lack of accountability of foods. Bringing on a very persuasive appeal to pathos, the intended audience is effectively swayed through highly sensitive mediums(mothers and children). Our documentary continues to use the push/pull aspect of persuasion. The two commercials pulls the reader towards sympathizing with laws to require the labeling of food alterations. After this scene is over, the viewer is now aware of the extent to which these companies will go to stop this from happening, to include tactics that are depicted as nothing less than evil. The audience is then pushed away even further from GMOs, inferring that children and infants could be in danger because of lack of accountability and traceability of genetic alterations.
Persuasion by emotion is unquestionably effective in, “The Future of Food.” Aside from the already GMO-sympathetic viewer, any audience would be hard-pressed to sympathize with Monsanto or any company patenting seeds and genetically altering crops. Through vivid descriptions and emotionally loaded scenes, the director successfully prompts nearly any audience to take action. With precise execution of pathos, the author effectively convicts nearly any audience. Beyond the obvious appeals seen in the film, the minor additions that would be overlooked by the untrained eye are very persuasive. With background and cultural music intertwined with flashbacks and cinematic effects, the director adds even more effectiveness to her appeal. In reference to the intended audience, Deborah Koons Garcia manages to effectively grasp and persuade those who have sought out the documentary in the manner she has deliberated. Mrs. Garcia also manages to reach an unintended audience as well; for instance, college classes all over the country use the film for study and quite possibly may not have ever seen the film without assigned viewing. With multiple avenues of unintended audiences, the effectiveness of this film is only solidified. There is no doubt that, The Future of Food is one step toward what possibly could be a large movement towards the eradication of genetically modified foods and or a requirement of the labeling of foods in the United States and other countries.
The Future of Food. Dir. Garcia, Deborah K. Perf. Catherine L. Butler, Vivien Hillgrove, Todd Boekelheide, Michael Hansen, A Pusztai, Michael Pollan, Joshua Muldavin, Sara Maamouri, and John Chater. Mill Valley, Calif.: Lily Films, 2007. Documentary.