To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the Non-GMO Project is partnering with Women’s Voice magazine to bring you the inspiring 2017 film, “Modified.” Canadian gardener and filmmaker Aube Giroux explores her family’s love of growing and sharing food, inspired by her late mother, Jali. Jali Giroux’s passion for possibilities of their home garden had its roots in the agricultural community where she grew up, eventually leading her to environmental and foods-rights activism.
While the story is driven by Aube’s own family, the personal and the political aspects of GMOS are interwoven so deftly that they are ultimately indivisible. One of the geneticists interviewed for the film remarks on the inherent risks of new technology, adding with a laugh, “Food, I would grant you, is special.” Indeed, it is: Food represents our most intimate relationship with the earth that sustains us. It is also a cultural touchstone, linking us to our families and our heritage.
Aube Giroux grew up in Eastern Canada in the 1990s, as GMO crops entered the food supply with a shocking lack of scientific oversight. “I went from knowing everything about where my food came from to knowing very little,” she says. Her mother’s passion for food and gardening soon spills over into Aube’s life as they learn together about these unique crops. Together, Jali and Aube embark on a new phase of activism: Aube behind the camera and Jali in front of it, researching, gardening and cooking.
Today, genetically modified organisms continue to be marketed to farmers with false promises of increased yields and decreased pesticide usage. While these benefits have proven elusive, the spiral of rising costs and chemical exposure that accompany GMO crops is described in interviews with the farmers who experience it. Ultimately, the real drivers behind the adoption of this technology — the monetary gain of the chemical companies that hold GMO seed patents and the monopolization of the seed supply — are revealed. At the same time, the glaring regulatory shortcomings are shown throughout the film in a series of beautiful and cheeky animations.
While “Modified” is a compelling portrayal of activism, it is neither hostile nor polemic. Aube Giroux doesn’t seem to seek out controversy — she’s driven instead by the experiences of her youth and the beliefs her mother instilled. As a documentarian, she is diligent and persistent, even in the face of an epic run-around from Health Canada, the Canadian government agency responsible for food safety and the health of its citizens.
This film shows us how storytelling, relationships and food are inextricably linked: The garden and the kitchen host the most tender moments between Aube and her mother. There is a continuity of knowledge that travels from generation to generation: in the seeds that are saved from each harvest and replanted the next year evolving in tandem with their environment, to the legacy of Aube Giroux’s mother’s teaching:
“[My mother] believed that with every meal we eat, we’re making a choice about the kind of world we want to live in. It’s up to each and every one of us to make it a good one.”
Head to www.womensvoice.com/modified to watch the award-winning documentary film Modified for FREE, from April 15-22! For more on the film and James Beard award winner Aube, including recipes from Modified, visit modifiedthefilm.com and her @Kitchenvignettes food blog and Instagram page.