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NPR's One-Sided Take on Food, Inc.

I knew that American Public Media's Marketplace was sponsored by Monsanto, but after listening to a Weekend 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).


Reader Comments (3)

Although I'm no avid NPR listener, this past summer NPR had a great segment in which the downfalls of corn as the american stable, monoculture crop were discussed. This argument would leave Monstanto-fans steaming and certainly shows that NPR is not as one-sided as you argue.

July 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJason Schnissel


This post is about one segment on Weekend Edition. I'm aware that NPR and its affiliates have done solid reporting on sustainable food in the past, and I'm not trying to make broad claims about all programming on public radio.


July 6, 2009 | Registered CommenterOrganicNation.tv

I'd love to know how we get more people to see this movie! If that's truly the intent of the producers and those involved with the movie, then we have to give access to more people, including the farmers on both sides of the issues, people in small towns, low-income families who are using short-term band aids for health conditions like the one featured in the movie, and upper income families who have the influence to make change and a bigger impact when they vote with their fork.

July 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGina

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