Penn & Teller: Bullshit!

Season 1 Episode 11

Eat This!

Aired Monday 10:00 PM Apr 04, 2003 on Showtime

Episode Fan Reviews (2)

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out of 10
43 votes
  • One of the most succint arguments made by the entire series.

    The first half of the episode is the typical warning against fad diets and exercises. However, the second half of the episode is a very revealing expose of the truth behind food technology: virtually everything we eat is genetically modified in some way. The argument Penn makes, that scaring the Third World out of advanced food technology that can prevent hunger is racism, is right on. These are the words that somebody needed to say. Penn has a very intelligent way of debating for or against subjects, even if he needlessly uses more colorful language to do so. But this argument is definitely his most compelling and most logical as of yet.
  • The dieting half is dead on, the GMO part is horribly biased. So it's five for the diet, zero for the rest.

    I am not going to touch the first half of the episode, since I feel it's dead on (as is indeed the case with most episodes I've seen, save the one about recycling). The other half, on the other hand...

    It may indeed be argued that it's one way to look at GMO. However, it's not the only one and telling fed people to shut up if they beg to differ is just irresponsible. The fed people may actually have something worthwhile to say. Instead, Penn and Teller have found the weirdest kooks and present them as the main force behind organic food.

    It's true that many people in the GMO industry honestly believe that they are addressing the hunger issue and healing the world. There are other issues that need to be paid attention to. The solution to world hunger comes with strings attached. The strings are attached to Monsanto et al. It wouldn't have taken too much research to find out that in many third world places where the GM crops are introduced the local poor communities simply vanish, become extinct, move, die, whatever, to be replaced by the American GM crop fields and their imported farmers. The traditional specied also become extinct, having been replaced by the US imported genetically modified (and more expensive) species.

    Then there's the monoculture issue that any biologist worth of his/her salt would have explained, had Penn and Teller not been heavily prejudiced and gathered only evidence that supports their bias. In essence, a monocultural crop (that the GM crops represent) is very vulnerable towards changes in environment, so that it can be wiped out in its entirety on a very large scale, leaving the dependents... Well, quite hungry and without alternative options.

    It's not to say that GM organisms do not have their merits. There are GM trees grown in China. They grow fast, they're quick money, they are more or less identical and old forests are not being cut. Hopefully. But that, too, could've added to Penn and Teller's argument. Why not research a bit?

    There's no need to go into an anthropological and socio-political argument about the reason why there are so many starving people in the so-called third world. Suffice it to say, providing more food has not remedied the problem so far, it has only created more starving people.

    So what am I on about? For the pro-GM viewpoint, Penn and Teller interviewed some scientists. For the pro-organic viewpoint, they interviewed kooks and gave them derogatory voice-overs (though often for a reason). Why not interview some contra-GM top notch scientists as well? There's an abundance of them, and they're well outspoken. But they may want to actually be able to finish their sentences... So that may be too much to ask for.
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