Who is Robert Kenner? He is a screenwriter, producer and director whose documentary, ‘Food, Inc.’ surprised consumers by exposing what happens away from the public’s eye regarding the production of our food supply. His second film, ‘Merchants of Doubt,’ reveals the truth behind the tobacco companies, and those who claim to deny climate change. He has created multiple enemies in all areas by revealing facts and squashing fiction.
In ‘Food, Inc.,’ Kenner exposed ‘industrialized food.’ From exposing chickens which are fed hormones to increase size and weight, to the use of genetically modified seeds, which result in foods such as tomatoes which have little taste and no nutritional value, he placed the truth about our food supply directly in front of the consumer. He invited companies such as Monsanto to appear on the film to defend their use of GMO’s, but they never appeared. The ‘agro-giant’ did issue a statement claiming that genetically modified food is safe and necessary to increase the world’s food supply. There is no evidence that GMO seed yield more crops; the truth is that they were created to resist Monsanto’s own Roundup Ready herbicide.
None of the agricultural giants would allow Kenner inside their doors while he was filming ‘Food, Inc.,’ but he was able to attend several governmental meetings regarding the safety of our nation’s food supply.
One such hearing was held in Sacramento. The discussion was whether or not to label ‘cloned meat.’ Kenner said he had never heard the term before, but became frightened as he thought about the process. Representatives of ranchers said that ‘labeling the cloned meat would only confuse consumers.’
Presently several counties and states are considering whether or not to label foods created through the use of GMO’s. Consumers argue that they are unsafe for human consumption and the American public has the right to know what is in the food they eat. The food industry says that they are safe and do not need to be labeled; it would only create a false concern for consumers. 60 nations including the entire European Union, Japan and Australia have banned GMO manufactured foods, or placed restrictions such as labeling on the products. The FDA is supporting the chemical giants.
‘Merchants of Doubt’ portrays a true picture of how two industries attempts to create doubt within the American people continue to allow dangerous and destructive products and conditions to exist. The tobacco industry began a process of delaying the investigation of health-related issues as early as the 1950’s. It was during that time that scientists confirmed the link between smoking and lung disease, heart disease, and others. In the 80’s and 90’s tobacco farmers made energetic efforts to delay the discussion about the relationship between tobacco products and deadly disease. The tobacco industry used several tactics to misdirect the public from gaining the frightening knowledge about tobacco related deaths. They even aligned themselves with the ‘flame-retardant’ clothing industry in an attempt to pass fear onto another industry. Tobacco remains a multi-million dollar business today thanks to lobbyists and a Congress which fails to protect the American people.
News events and experiencing the reality of climate change should be enough to convince even the most avid doubter that it is a reality and caused by man. One of the problems is that although the vast majority of scientists are positive regarding the cause of climate change, they are not good salesmen. Supporters of the oil companies, and manufacturers who continue to use coal and fossil fuels to operate their plants hire people who are good salesmen and are able to lie to the American public without conscience.
This film is professional and intelligent. Although much of it is known by advocates for changes in condemning the tobacco industry and those who abuse the environment, it is at times humorous with a generous use of sarcasm.
The American people are at war with our government and corporate profiteers. We can no longer expect to be protected from big business whose only goal is profit; Congress is protecting the very entities we expect protection from.
Commentary by James Turnage