Pro-GMO Filmmaker Wants World To Hear Ugandan Banana Farmers’ Voices

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Written by Dana Sanchez

Banana bacterial wilt is infecting Uganda’s banana farms, hurting farmers’ incomes and depriving the population of an important source of carbohydrates.

Cassava brown streak disease is destroying another key carbohydrate source.

Banana and cassava seeds genetically modified to be resistant to these diseases are locked away in Uganda’s research facilities because of the actions of a small but loud minority armed with the ideology of fear,  reports in GeneticLiteracyProject.

Canadian filmmaker Nick Saik wants to prove that GM foods are safe. He has been in Africa shooting part of a documentary entitled “Know GMO.”

Nick, 27, interviewed African banana and cassava farmers, scientists and policymakers — those looking for a solution to diseases threatening staple plants in Africa.

The intention of “Know GMO” is to tell the story of modern agriculture from a fresh perspective, Nick said.

Nick is quick to say he is anti-nothing. Rather he is pro organic, pro GMO, pro food, and pro regulations when necessary.

Most documentaries on food focus on fear because fear sells, Nick said. He says he wants to tell a positive story about GMOs so people can people stop being afraid of their food. “Know GMO” will focus on evidence from farms in Uganda and Kenya, and facts and perspectives from scientists, policymakers, and consumers.

Nick credits his dad — Robert Saik, executive director of Agri-trend — for instilling in him a desire to understand agriculture and food related issues. Agri-trend is an Alberta, Canada-based agricultural consulting firm that says it helps farmers produce food profitably and in an environmentally sustainable manner.

Robert is also “Know GMO’s” executive director, and wants this documentary to bring the voice of banana farmers in Uganda and scientists in laboratories to a global audience, according to GeneticLiteracyProject.

Nick and Robert have raised $750,000 towards a $1 million target to make “Know GMO,” according to a report by the government of Saskatchewan. The film is aimed at educating consumers and policymakers far removed from farming on the safety and necessity of GMOs if the world is to feed 9 billion people by 2050, the report says.

All stakeholders in the Saskatchewan agriculture sector including farmers are being invited to help finance the project. The Farm and Food Care Foundation is administering the funds and issuing tax-deductible receipts for donations.

“The movie isn’t going to be based on somebody’s opinion,” Nick said in an interview with TheWesternProducer. “We’re going to talk to scientists around the world. It’s not going to have ‘I think’ and ‘I believe’ statements. We’re going to show people what is going on in agriculture around the world.”

Nick said the film will provide a response to the GMO fear mongers on the streets in many Western cities and inform many innocent consumers “trapped in a hostile ring of fear,” according to GeneticLiteracyProject.