Film Explores the Passion, Controversy and Confusion Regarding Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

Boys walk from burning bananas in FOOD EVOLUTION documentary

A scene from Food Evolution directed by Scott Hamilton Kennedy. Photo courtesy of Black Valley Films. Download image.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – In a little more than three decades, in the year 2050, it’s estimated the world population will swell to more than 9 billion. Perhaps the most urgent question for us going forward – how will the earth feed so many people? 

It’s a topic of debate and discussion that’s part of the documentary “FOOD EVOLUTION,” produced by Academy Award-nominated director Scott Hamilton Kennedy and narrated by esteemed science communicator Neil deGrasse Tyson. The film explores the world of genetically modified organisms, commonly referred to as GMOs. 

A GMO is an organism whose genome has been altered by a technique of genetic engineering so that its 
DNA contains one or more genes not normally found there. A high percentage of food crops such as corn and soybeans are genetically modified. 

The Department of Food Science at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture and its student organization, the Institute of Food Technologists, will host a viewing of “FOOD EVOLUTION” on Wednesday, April 4, 2018, at 7 p.m. in the Cox Auditorium in the Alumni Memorial Building on the UT campus. The address is 1408 Middle Drive. The event is free to UT students, faculty, staff and high school students, and $10 for the general public. 

“The GMO debate is a passionate one, especially when it impacts food choices,” says Mark Morgan, department head and professor of food engineering. “We want to give the community an opportunity to learn more about GMOs and their role in our food supply. We aren’t promoting a specific side of the debate, just encouraging the community to learn food science facts and make their own decisions.” 

Following the 90-minute film, there will be a panel discussion and question-and-answer session featuring Neal Stewart, UTIA professor of plant sciences and Racheff Chair of Excellence in plant molecular genetics, and John Lang, professor at Occidental College in Los Angeles and author of the book “What’s So Controversial about Genetically Modified Food?”

“FOOD EVOLUTION” was filmed in locations from papaya groves in Hawaii to banana farms in Uganda – and corn fields in the American Midwest. It features interviews with researchers, scientists and farmers from around the world. 

Filmmakers wanted to separate hype and emotion from scientific facts to unravel the truth about this controversy, and help audiences reach their own conclusions about GMOs. They raise such issues as how do we ensure our food is safe? Has genetic engineering increased or decreased pesticides? And how do we feed the world while still protecting the planet?

This event is funded in part by the Student Programming Allocation Committee (SPAC).

The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture celebrates 50 years of excellence of providing Real. Life. Solutions. through research, education and engagement.



Mark Morgan, UTIA Food Science, 974-7499,

Charles Denney, 865-382-8058 (mobile),


More details about the film are online at​.