Documentary takes a global look at food technology issues

March 19, 2018

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — A screening of the acclaimed documentary “Food Evolution” will be held at 7 p.m. on April 19 in the State Theatre in downtown State College. The film takes an in-depth look at a number of controversial food issues across the globe, including GMOs (genetically modified organisms).

Directed by Scott Hamilton Kennedy, “Food Evolution” travels the world from Uganda to Iowa, with narrator Neil deGrasse Tyson delivering the facts on one of today’s most vital issues, and stories from the people most affected. The film is presented by the Penn State Council on Agricultural Innovation: Scientific, Ethical, Legal, Social Issues.

For more information and to reserve seats visit

Audience members will see both sides of the GMO debate while experts debunk misinformation that plagues newscasts, newspapers and news feeds. Viewers will get an honest look at sources, data and evidence that answer important questions regarding global hunger, health and economics.

The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) funded the project and hired Hamilton Kennedy to direct. The organization’s past president, John Coupland, a Penn State food scientist who was instrumental in supporting the documentary, said the IFT board was looking for an experienced documentarian and storyteller. Hamilton Kennedy made the kind of “cool and interesting” documentaries its members were looking for.

“We were interested in supporting a public conversation about the use of science and technology in preparing food,” said Coupland. "'Food Evolution' is an interesting, thought-provoking film. I don’t think anyone will go in and agree with absolutely everything in it, but I think you’d have to have a hard heart not to be sympathetic to some of the characters in the film and the positions they take.”

The film purposefully addresses the issues from several perspectives, from farmers to scientists to consumers. It avoids the “hype and emotion” of the topic by presenting science and data, hoping the audience will reach its own conclusions.

Following the screening, there will be a question-and-answer session with a group of experts. The Q&A panelists will be Sarah Evanega, director of the Alliance for Science at Cornell University; Siela Maximova, research professor of plant biotechnology; Lee Ahern, director of Penn State’s Science Communication Program; and Shelby Fleisher, professor of entomology.

“Food is important, and we touch the natural world every day and our choices impact our health, as well as the health of people in very different places,” Coupland said. “I think it’s better for people to be more informed about how some of these technologies impact their lives now and in the future.”

The documentary features interviews with experts like environmental journalist Mark Lynas, biotechnology expert Alison Van Eenennaam, consumer advocate Jeffrey Smith, TV scientist Bill Nye, and many others. The event is co-sponsored by the College of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State and Penn State’s Science Communication Program, which is a part of the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications.

Visit the film’s website for more information: Viewers can follow along on Twitter by using the #FoodEvoMoviePSU hashtag.



  • Food Evolution Scientist
    IMAGE: Food Evolution

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 20, 2018