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Corn Growers Not a Fan of Hollywood

From Naiomi Shulman, SlashFood.com: It's not often that midwestern farmers speak out against a motion picture, but the movie Food Inc.

may have hit a bit too close to home. Inspired by the blockbuster books The Omnivore's Dilemma and Fast Food Nation, the movie's criticism -- that industrialized crops are detrimental both to our bodies and the environment -- centers on corn. Hollywood has expressed its de facto support by nominating the film for Best Documentary; now the corn industry is responding. Loudly.

Bob Dickey, a farmer in Laurel, Nebraska, doesn't usually comment on the Academy's voting process, but as the chairman of the National Corn Growers Association, he has something to say. "U.S. corn farmers are proud of their work," he insisted in an official NCGA response to Food Inc. "This film's producers don't like the steps government, the food industry and commodity groups like NCGA have taken to keep food prices low and help feed the world's hungry. We have the least expensive food of any nation, and for that we're grateful."
 
As for the particulars of the movie's points -- namely, that factory meat raised on corn feed is inherently unhealthy, and that the high fructose corn syrup found in almost every processed food causes obesity -- Dickey's response is stalwart: "The fact is, conventional U.S. field corn is a safe product, whether it is used in processed foods such as corn starch or corn syrup, whether it is fed to cattle and other livestock, or whether it is used as ethanol or fiber. Its versatility as a safe and inexpensive ingredient is second to none, which is why demand for it persists year after year."

There may not be many farmers among the Academy, but there's at least one: Dan Glickman, former secretary of agriculture under Bill Clinton and current chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America. Glickman acknowledged to ABC News that Food Inc. is "a piece of advocacy" work, not pure journalism, and consequently has a subjective viewpoint.

Either way, come Sunday Hollywood glitterati will be stepping out in style, thinking golden statues rather than golden corn. Meanwhile, moviegoers will vote with their dollars when they buy their movie tickets -- and, of course, their popcorn.
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