In the award-winning documentary “Modified” (87 minutes | Canada | 2017), the filmmaker and her mother embark on a personal and poignant investigative journey to find out why genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are not labeled on food products in the United States and Canada, despite being labeled in 64 countries around the world. Shot over a span of ten years, the film explores the impacts of genetically engineering our food, exposing the cozy relationship between the agribusiness industry and our governments. The film is anchored in the intimate story of the filmmaker’s relationship to her mom, an organic gardener, seed saver, and food activist who battled cancer while the film’s production was underway. Interweaving the personal and the political, the film uses family video archives, animations, and mouth-watering vignettes from the filmmaker’s award-winning PBS cooking show to create a visual celebration of homegrown food and family legacy. The film debunks the myth that GMOs are needed to feed the world and makes a compelling plea for a more sustainable and transparent food system. Winner of 10 festival awards.
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After living in Europe for two years where GMOs are labeled on food products, I came home feeling frustrated that GMOs weren’t clearly identified in North America. As my mom and I started to question why our governments were refusing to label GMOs, it became obvious that our elected representatives were not representing their constituents’ wishes since more than 80% of Americans and Canadians want GMOs labeled. The more we looked into it, the more we learned that industry was calling the shots when it came to policies around GMOs. Two years into the film’s production, my mom was diagnosed with brain cancer and the film unexpectedly became more personal and intimate than I had originally envisioned. It became a tribute to my mom’s deep love of gardening cooking, and eating, and to her firm belief that we all have a right to know how our food is produced.