Food Evolution Movie

As part of our 75th anniversary celebration in 2014, IFT launched the FutureFood 2050 program. The first phase began with conducting a series of interviews with scientists, prominent figures, influencers, and personalities in both the food world and beyond. These stories provided a foundation for a second phase leading to the production of an independent documentary, Food Evolution, which premiered at NYC Doc Film Festival in November 2016.

The documentary film, Food Evolution, explores food-related challenges we face globally, the critical role that science will play in addressing them, and the public perceptions and misperceptions involving the science of food.

IFT funded the documentary Food Evolution to inspire discussion and show the critical role science and innovation play in building a safe, nutritious, and sustainable food supply for everyone. This film is intended to contribute to a rational conversation about science, facts, and food.

The world faces the challenge of feeding an estimated population of nine billion people in 2050. Because of the magnitude of this projection and the demand for safe and nutritious food that it brings, this issue needs to be considered from a thoughtful, global perspective. IFT approached several high-quality filmmakers, including Scott Hamilton Kennedy, and ultimately chose to work with Kennedy because he is known for his skill and integrity.

While IFT funded the film, it represents the vision, full creative control, and final cut that Kennedy and his partner on this project, Trace Sheehan, have maintained throughout the project. Food Evolution focuses on the GMO debate because the director found it to be emblematic of the public misunderstanding about the science of food and food sustainability. IFT believes Kennedy’s film is thought provoking and an important contribution to gaining a better understanding of the critical role sound science plays in the global food system.


On the origin of Food Evolution:

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the film about? 
Amid a brutally polarized debate marked by passion, suspicion, and confusion, Food Evolution looks at one of the most critical questions facing the world today—that of food security—and demonstrates the desperate need for common sense, solid information, and calm logical deliberation. Using the often angry and emotional controversy over genetically-modified foods as its entry point, Food Evolution shows how easily fear and misinformation can overwhelm objective, evidence-based analysis. Food Evolution takes the position that science and scientists hold the key to solving the food crisis. But whose science? In the GMO debate, both sides claim science is on their side. Who’s right? How do we figure this out? What does this mean for the larger issues of food security, sustainability, and environmental well-being? Food Evolution seeks to answer these critically important questions.

Why did IFT decide to pursue this film?
The film was part of our endless pursuit of the IFT Vision: A world where science and innovation are universally accepted as essential to a safe, nutritious, and sustainable food supply for everyone. When we launched FutureFood 2050, to celebrate IFT's 75th anniversary, we wanted to tell the story, from multiple dimensions, about science, scientists, facts and food and how we’re going to feed the 9 billion people expected worldwide by 2050. We hired an independent editor and several independent journalists to write the thought-provoking articles for FutureFood 2050. This film was the culmination of these efforts.  The same approach was taken – find the best story teller and documentarian (Scott Hamilton Kennedy) and give him creative control to tell a story that will begin a rational discussion about sound science.

How did IFT select the director?
We interviewed 5-10 potential directors and selected Scott Hamilton Kennedy, based on his passion for film, his experience, his award nominations, and his vision for this film. It was important this person not be involved with the food industry in any way so they would be able to present an independent viewpoint. Kennedy is an Academy-Award nominated director who has produced The Garden, Fame High and other films.

How was it determined that the debate over GMOs would be central to the film?  
Our original inspiration was a film that would highlight the science of food. This was a broad and open-ended vision, for which the director would interpret and determine the best way to tell a compelling story and inspire thinking about the role of science and innovation in our food supply. The director told us he went this direction because he saw GMOs as a proxy for the larger debate over the widespread public misunderstanding of science. The larger issue addressed in the film is how we make decisions about science overall and the consequences of making decisions based on emotions and ideology as opposed to data and scientific evidence.

Did outside companies provide funding for the film?
No. FutureFood2050 and Food Evolution were funded through IFT’s financial reserves, derived from revenue generated primarily through membership dues, scientific publishing, events and advertising, and without contribution from any other organization or company to bring a rational conversation about sound science in our global food system to a larger audience.

How much did IFT influence the content of the film?
From its very origin, the director has had total creative control, including approval of the final cut. He came into the project as a documentarian who did not have a scientific background and was neither for or against genetic engineering in food. As an experienced documentarian, Kennedy went where the research and interviews led him and the story unfolded as he learned more about the science of food. While IFT funded the film, the message and conclusions drawn from the film are entirely those of the filmmakers, but we believe the film serves as an opportunity to demonstrate the rational conversation that can be had about the nature of science and food and what that means to feed the world.

When and how can the film be seen?
The film premiered at the NYC DOC film festival in November 2016 and has been screened at a number of film festivals in the U.S. and Europe since that time. The film will be in select theaters beginning June 23, 2017, including a featured session IFT premiere at IFT17 . For a listing of theaters visit the Food Evolution website. Meanwhile, the filmmakers are pursuing a variety of possible distribution channels in an effort to bring the film to as many viewers as possible.  More information will be available when distribution plans are finalized.

Who is IFT?

  • Founded in 1939, the Institute of Food Technologists is committed to advancing the science of food. Our non-profit scientific society—more than 17,000 members from more than 95 countries—brings together food scientists, technologists, and related professionals from academia, government and industry.
  • Our members represent multiple disciplines, perspectives, and a shared commitment to the science of food.
  • IFT is a non-profit scientific society, not a trade association or trade group.
  • IFT’s volunteer leaders come from government, large and small companies and universities, and are elected for their professional and academic accomplishments. 
  • Food Technology Magazine is our in-house news magazine. Our other publications include:
    • Journal of Food Science
    • Journal of Food Science Education
    • Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Safety