Sunday, August 2, 2015
'Our Daily Poison' DVD: Food for Thought Regarding Pesticides and Other Chemicals
Icarus Films continues its campaign of distributing DVDs of "innovative and provocative documentary films from independent producers around the world" with the July 28, 2015 release of "Our Daily Poison." This one by French filmmaker Marie Monique Robin studies pesticides and other chemicals that impose significant hidden health risks. A personal memory regarding this topic is a graduate school classmate remarking that Coke that lacks sugar and caffeine merely is "cancer in a can."
The broad scope of the film encompasses a plethora of French and American scientists and other experts on both sides of the aisle. Watching the "suits" try to refute the findings that are contrary to their interests is hilarious.
The opening scene in "Poison" is an amusing retro French educational short, which leads to Robin beginning to wonder about the toxic impact of pesticides. This analysis begins with coverage of French farmers with devastating chronic health problems that are attributable to long-term exposure to those substances.
The focus then shifts to the logical topic of how eating foods that are coated with the chemicals that sicken farmers affects consumers. This excellent analysis of those effects and how acceptable levels of exposure are determined is fascinating and also scary to the extent that it highlights the serious fallacies associated with making those conclusions. It also evokes thoughts of the (possible urban legends) regarding the allowable levels of insect parts and other foreign substances in candy bars and other foods.
Watching sketched rats die animated deaths in this segment provides the strongest visual in this somewhat clinical film. Heavily focusing on the science is valid, but a little more "excitement" would have been welcome.
Robin next tackles the well-publicized issues associated with the artificial sweetener Aspartame, which is better known as NutraSweet. The degree to which dirty politics plays a role regarding approving use of that substance is interesting by itself and that much more so as to the involvement of a high-ranking government official with a long history of prominent roles in several administrations.
A third segment begins with an informative and interesting look at the events that inadvertently led to discovering the use of harmful chemicals in plastic drinking products. A Boston researcher who literally is a pioneer regarding all this wins the award for dumbing down her topic to the level of the typical viewer. Her peers simply have slightly less skill regarding this.
The DVD extra consists of a full-color booklet with excerpts from the book, which has the same name as the film, by Robin on which she bases the film.
The final analysis is that the somewhat dense nature of "Poison" provides so much information regarding the covered topics that it is a little tough to digest (pun intended). The take-away (pun intended) is that Robin offers strong proof of what you likely have suspected for years; it just condenses that data (and a bunch o' stuff of which you were unaware) into a well-presented two-hour movie.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Poison" is welcome to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.