Trotting out facts and figures while couching its argument as fundamentally moral and religious, GMO OMG takes direct aim at the GMOs (“genetically modified organisms”) that are found in virtually all non-organic foods, and thus ingested by most Americans. The rise of GMOs is a trend that strikes director Jeremy Seifert as immensely troubling, because as he lays out in an intro sequence, he has kids whom he loves, and he wants to keep them away from the bio-engineered food elements they unwittingly stuff into their months each day. The opening firmly establishes Seifert’s desire to present himself as nothing more than your average T-shirt-and-trucker-hat everyman with common parental concerns—a pretense that’s as disingenuous as his repeated claims that he’s just after the truth about GMOs, and whether they’re harmful toxins or (as he suggests might be possible) beneficial additives that give people superpowers.
The real truth is that GMO OMG—a title as goofy as its line of reasoning is specious—is merely the latest in a long line of one-sided agitprop documentaries. Far from an impartial investigation born from regular-guy worries, Seifert’s work is a monotonous censure that, in the absence of conclusive data, exploits fear through dewy-eyed vistas of domestic happiness (kids trick-or-treating and eating dinner), selective numbers and news headlines, and lots of ominous intimations to scare people into panicking about the things they’re eating. Until he trots out a lone French research study that seems to confirm his suspicion that GMOs are deadly, Seifert offers absolutely no evidence to support his claims. Instead, he merely details, at great length, the pervasiveness of GMOs, which in and of itself is apparently a crime, because he believes chemically altering our food decreases genetic diversity and “loss of diversity threatens our very survival on this planet.”
GMO OMG asks “Where is the outrage?” without presenting any definitive reason to be irate. To combat agricultural conglomerates’ contentions that GMOs help increase crop production and reduce costs—thus providing a means for feeding growing global populations—Seifert throws in scattered comments from a couple of agricultural farmers who claim, without any supporting proof, that organic farming can produce the same yields as industrial farming, and with less pollution and other negative side effects. To show that GMO conglomerate Monsanto was wrong to offer seeds to earthquake-ravaged Haiti, he highlights local opposition leaders who simply claim the seeds destroy life and kill people. That’s part and parcel of the proceedings, which amount to a mountain of conjecture held together by an underlying assumption of corporations as inherently untrustworthy and nefarious.
The film doesn’t really care about its lack of substantiation, because whether GMOs are toxic—or whether GMO food should be properly labeled as such—isn’t really the issue at hand. Rather, it’s that GMOs supposedly shatter our bond with Mother Nature and God. Ultimately, what’s proffered isn’t a scientific argument against a burgeoning agro-industrial movement, but an emotional, quasi-spiritual case about humanity's relationship with the environment. And that argument is coupled with dreamy snapshots of kids playing and laughing, cutesy comic interludes of people running through a corn field in chemical-protection suits, and a final Mumford & Sons-scored finale of a woman in a flowing white dress dancing with her arms raised to the heavens. It’s a New Age-y approach to a serious issue that preaches to the organic-or-bust choir.