NPR’s One-Sided Take on Food, Inc.

I knew that American Public Media’s Marketplace was sponsored by Monsanto, but after listening to aWeekend Edition segment about Food, Inc. I’m starting to think that NPR is under the thumb of big agribusiness too. Under the pretense of “balanced” coverage, the segment, “Debate Over Food Movie Misses Most Farmers,” contends that most farmers disagree with the thesis forwarded in Food, Inc. and actually favor the use of GMO crops, chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

“Farmers can get kind of touchy when movies like Food, Inc. fail to appreciate how they roll,” Morris tells listeners matter-of-factly. That’s a fine angle to take, except that producer Frank Morris only checks in with Missouri farmers who haven’t even seen the film — at most, they’ve seen the trailer.

The fact that many farmers in the Corn Belt might not be able to get to a screening of Food, Inc. is a separate issue. The film is distributed by Magnolia Pictures, and it’s playing mostly at indie theaters in big cities and on the coasts. Therefore, it can seem like urbanites, who are completely detached from agriculture, are leaving farmers out of the conversation, but that doesn’t mean, as the NPR piece suggests, that all farmers are necessarily against the film.

According to Morris, the Missouri farmers interviewed for Weekend Edition tend to share Food, Inc. director Robert Kenner’s resentment for big agribusiness like Monsanto, but they feel that the film is bad for business because it takes a hit at the whole industry (again: they haven’t actually seen the movie).