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
Overall, the broadcast is clearly tough, apparently fair, and undeniably
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
...This broadcast will serve as a primer for people who haven't kept up on the
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."