Documentary ‘GMO OMG’ needs a more knowledgeable crusader

Jeremy Seifert (with kids) tries to get the bottom of a controversial health issue in "GMO OMG." Credit: Submarine Deluxe
Jeremy Seifert (with kids) tries to get the bottom of a controversial health issue in “GMO OMG.”
Credit: Submarine Deluxe

Director: Jeremy Seifert
Genre: Documentary
2 (out of 5) Globes

Citizen journalism has a long history of getting unsanctioned news out to the masses. But there are always incompetents who ruin it for everyone. An activist documentary like “GMO OMG” does just that. Its filmmaker, Jeremy Seifert — a shaggy, hippie-ish Californian who looks a little distractingly like Peter Dinklage — adopts the usual faux-naif first-person vibe that seems de rigeur in activist documentaries. The topic is genetically modified organisms, which may or may not be introducing cancerous elements into our food.

Thing is, Seifert doesn’t come off as a faux-naif. He comes off as a real naif, who seems to have little to no idea what he’s talking about. He’s a likable guy off on a good cause, but he also seems like he just heard a couple things, has been suitably freaked out, yet is in well over his head. He thinks pluck and charm might atone for his investigative shortcomings.

As any light snooping will reveal, the subject tof GMOs is not a cut-and-dry issue. Not even all GMOs are bad, as the film admits. But the lack of regulation, plus the draconian measures of biotech company Monsanto — who force American farmers to use their own, modified seeds and refuse transparency — make GMOs an easy target for sloppy filmmakers wishing to stir up a scare.

And stir Seifert does. He trots out his kids, asking himself (and us) if we can stomach feeding them foods whose origins are in question, that might (but might not) cause cancer. (That’s if one of the many other scenarios from the many other doomsday docs don’t get us first.) To his credit, Seifert recognizes he could be wrong, and even acknowledges the temptation toward even obviously unhealthy foods, like ice cream on a hot summer’s day. He seizes upon experts, both scientists and farmers. He gets a mixed-up story. Even the good guys can’t agree completely on the evil of GMOs. Some say it’s a crapshoot: that even carefully regulated GMOs can be susceptible to dangerous elements.

It’s times like this that “GMO OMG” demands a seasoned snooper, not some admitted ignoramus, especially one who would put “OMG” in the title of his movie. (Such silliness doesn’t jibe well with the subject, his apocalyptic prognosis nor numerous montages set to triumphant music and filled with emptily stirring images.) Does Seifert deserve credit for spreading awareness of a problem and starting a conversation? Of course. He gets an “A” (or at least a “B”) for effort, but a much lower grade for follow-through.


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