Harvest of Fear (home)NOVA

should we grow them?
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press reaction

The Hollywood Reporter · Michael R. Farkash

"Are genetically modified foods a boon to the world or simply 'Frankenfood,' as opponents have claimed? A remarkable, well-produced docu from Frontline and Nova dishes up both sides of the controversy in an engaging, wide-sweeping, elegant way...."

New York Daily News · Eric Mink

"...[T]he chances of someone having avoided a genetically modified food since roughly 1996 are virtually nil.

That's just one of the facts likely to startle the viewers who watch 'Harvest of Fear,' a joint Frontline/NOVA report airing tonight on PBS...

...It's a dizzingly complex subject, obviously, but [producer Jon] Palfreman presents it crisply and clearly with a savvy combination of coherent storytelling and organization and engaging stylistic devices...

...The potential benefits cited by proponents of biotechnology - reduced dependence on pesticides and herbicides, improved crop yields despite poor soil in developing countries, simplified distribution of anti-disease vaccines - have not received as much favorable attention as the potential problems cited by opponents - mainly, unforeseeable adverse medical and environmental effects. This program corrects some of that imbalance.

Even so, Palreman allots a substantial amount of time to the arguments of credible opponents of bio-technology, some of which remain potent and troubling even after they have been subjected to close scrutiny. Others seem to wither or weaken after Palfreman examines the science, or lack thereof, behind them. Some of the hard-line European perspectives, it's fair to say, do not hold up well.

Overall, the broadcast is clearly tough, apparently fair, and undeniably important."

The Washington Post · Megan Rosenfeld

"...Producer, writer and director Jon Palfreman has clearly put a lot of effort into this primer on the controversy about creating new foods 'improved' with genetic additions. (The strawberry injected with a fish gene to prevent frost damage is one of the most famous.) The science is made simple - but not quite simple enough - for the layman, and the discussion is reasonably balanced. I came away believing that Monsanto was not necessarily an evil empire, that the eco-terrorists who set fires and destroy crops are not helping anyone, and that I would eat the Vitamin A-enriched 'gold rice' but not the fast-growing cultivated Atlantic salmon.

The program is constructed a little clumsily, with the most compelling moral dilemmas coming in the second half..."

Entertainment Weekly · Caroline Kepnes

"Frankenfoods are as vehement and impassioned as the organic Birkenstock types who oppose them, we learn in this NOVA/Frontline production on genetically engineered crops. However, if the producers had focused more on the subtext - that Americans are less concerned with genetic purity than Europeans - and less on speculation, the show would be easier to swallow."

Chicago Tribune · Steve Johnson

"...It's a patient, even plodding, two hours, as it traces the history and scientific and political implications of introducing into one organism a gene from another...

...This broadcast will serve as a primer for people who haven't kept up on the debate.

And even those who have followed it in the print media can learn more about, say, genetically modified food's potential to help farmers in the Third World countries fighting poor soil and blight and the seemingly callous insistence of the Greenpeaces that no such food is acceptable.

The broadcast earns points for calm and balance amid a debate that is often hysterical. It is not, alas, able to settle the all-important questions about the safety and wisdom of transgenic farming."

Minneapolis Star Tribune · Noel Holston

...The unnerving thing about this two-hour NOVA-Frontline collaboration, which promises to 'disentangle the debate about genetically modified food,' is that it doesn't make distinguishing the good guys from the bad guys one whit easier. It's scrupulously fair and frustratingly noncommital.

After a brief history of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), such as corn with an insect-repelling gene, 'Harvest of Fear' settles into a formula. It raises big questions - 'Are we tampering with nature?,' 'Are GMOs safe to eat?" - and lets scientists and activists of presumable honorable intentions (but decidedly contrary viewpoints) take their best shots...

...The program, while overflowing with information, is inconclusive. If nothing else, it should be a boon to the back-yard garden movement."

Houston Chronicle · Ann Hodges

"The Food we eat is a subject near enough to our hearts to cause two distinguished PBS series to team up tonight...

...The provocative harvest of their collaboration is a long, hard look at the ongoing battle over genetically modified foods.

...'Harvest of Fear' is pretty scrupulous about presenting both sides, and it leaves the big questions for you to answer for yourself: Do we really need genetically modified plant foods and fish to feed the world? And what does the future hold?

This two-hour view of it is surely food for thought."

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