Food Evolution

Movie review by
Frannie Ucciferri, Common Sense Media
Food Evolution Movie Poster Image
Intriguing, complex, science-centric docu on GMOs.
  • NR
  • 2017
  • 92 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Strong support of science, evidence-based decisions, and the importance of facts over fear. Promotes health and food safety, as well as supporting struggling farmers in developing countries. Argues the negative impact of greed and profit-driven corporate interests. In a more controversial stance, presents anti-GMO activists as misinformed at best, harmful at worst. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Tackles a highly debated topic, but all interviewees are fair and civil toward those with opposing ideas. Scientists are celebrated as innovative, curious, and fair. Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam stands out as a passionate, intelligent science advocate. Dr. Emma Mugerwa uses her knowledge to support Ugandan farmers. Dr. Dennis Gonsalves defends engineering the rainbow papaya and saving the papaya industry in Hawaii. Experts and scientists are racially and culturally diverse, with strong gender representation on both sides of the issue.


Discussion about the diseases and harmful effects that some attribute to GMOs. Disturbing images of rats with extremely large tumors from a study. Anti-GMO activists are shown ripping up fields and destroying facilities that grow genetically engineered plants. Activists and scientists argue over the issues, occasionally raising their voices. A mother discusses her stillborn child.


Protesters chant "Heck no, GMOs." A written use of "bulls--t" in the credits sequence.


Monsanto, a chemical and life sciences company, is discussed at length. Other brands shown or mentioned include Whole Foods, Annie's, Organic Valley, Stonyfield Farms, KTA Superstores, Subway, Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Citi, HSBC, Exxon, Chipotle, and Volkswagen. Most brands are mentioned in the context of highlighting the negative influence of corporations in food science.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

References to cigarette companies advertising their products as safe. Pro-science protesters tell anti-GMO activists that if they turn over their protest materials, they'll buy them a beer.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Food Evolution is a documentary narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson about the debate over GMOs (genetically modified organisms) in the food, farming, and biotechnology industries. The film takes a "pro science" position, celebrating the positive role of research, facts, and evidence in all decision making -- but particularly in what we farm and what we eat. Although there's very little objectionable content in the movie, the complex concepts and issues being debated here aren't explained with kids in mind. Several brands and companies are discussed in the context of greedy corporate interests, with a particular focus on Monsanto and Whole Foods. Although representatives from both sides of the GMO debate are interviewed, the pro-science position favors the GMO supporters, so your own stance on the issue will impact how you interpret the movie's messages and role models. Violence is limited to arguing and scenes of protesters destroying crops. There's no swearing during the film, but the word "bulls--t" is displayed during the credits. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byThomas M. April 30, 2018

Outstanding documentary about food and a great counter-balance to misinformation

This doc would be great for science classes and families who are interested in food to watch. Genetic engineering of food is something that humanity has been do... Continue reading

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What's the story?

From protesters to plant geneticists, farmers to food journalists, FOOD EVOLUTION collects a wide range of opinions to shed light on the controversy surrounding GMOs (genetically modified organisms). The debate spans from farms in Hawaii and Uganda to research facilities in Washington to auditoriums in New York City. In countries around the world, genetically engineered plants are being tested, planted, studied, and fiercely debated. Leading experts explain their positions and present their case about whether GMOs are harmful or lead to higher pesticide use. But this movie argues that the real harm could be in the spread of misinformation. With scientists like Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye weighing in, as well as food-world authorities like Michael Pollan, the film presents evidence in favor of the safety of GMO technology.

Is it any good?

This complex documentary is effective at using a pro-science position to challenge the "fear over facts" campaigns that have led to GMO bans, but it's not as unbiased as it presents itself. The film raises some intriguing questions: Is there corporate interest in the organic food movement? Can they really claim the moral high ground if the science doesn't back them up? But the film brushes over these same concerns on the other side. It's difficult to claim that Monsanto -- a company that developed crops resistant to their own herbicide so they could make money on both the plants and the product -- is on the same level as Dr. Dennis Gonsalves, who saved the papaya industry by creating a disease-resistant crop and then donated seeds to the farmers. But that's what's implied.

Still, the main arguments in Food Evolution are worth thinking about. The film posits that it's corporate greed, not the underlying technology, that's negatively impacting farmers and the food industry -- and that it's always best to rely on facts to make important decisions that impact your family and the world. Older kids, especially science lovers, and anyone with an interest in genetic engineering and food science will enjoy the film's focus on unbiased research and hopeful messages about solving worldwide food shortages. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about their own views regarding GMOs. Do you think they're safe and healthy? Did your opinion change after watching Food Evolution

  • How does this film's position compare to that of other documentaries the food industry, like Food Inc. or A Place at the Table? What do you think about scientists who receive money from companies to do research that support them? On the other hand, who do you think paid to make this movie? Do you think the source of funding for a scientific or creative project affects its outcome? Is that a form of bias?

  • People can sometimes make decisions based on fear or gut instinct rather than facts. Why do you think that is? How do you make decisions?

  • How were the statistics and evidence presented in Food Evolution? Were they easy to understand? What might be some counter arguments made by those who disagree with the opinions presented in the film?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love science and food

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