Originally published December 21 2007
Movie Review: I am Legend, Will Smith and the Dangers of Playing God with Food and Medicine
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor
(NaturalNews) Will Smith's latest blockbuster hit, I Am Legend, opens with the premise that medical researchers engineered a cure for cancer that required injecting (or "infecting") patients with a genetically-modified virus that blocks the growth of cancer tumors. Early human trials were extremely successful (a 100 percent cure rate), but the virus quickly mutated into a rabies-like strain, causing subjects to rapidly (and rabidly) devolve into beasts of aggression and superhuman strength who fear ultraviolet radiation from sunlight.
The epidemic begins in New York, and in order to contain the outbreak, U.S. military officials seal off the island, destroy the bridges and impose a strict quarantine. It is from this backdrop that Will Smith plays the role of a lone hero-survivor who must survive the violent aggression of the mutated human beasts while desperately searching for a medical cure that might reverse the disease.
The film is part horror, part action and part drama. The CG scenes of an abandoned, weed-overgrown New York City are nothing less than astonishing. The CG animation of the infected human beasts is also spectacular. In terms of photography, sound design, special effects and screenplay, the movie delivers everything you might expect. Will Smith's acting, as expected, is also superb. He plays the emotional range of his character with heart-wrenching dynamism. He even nails the devolving psychological state of his character who, living in isolation from all other humans, begins to talk to mannequins as if they were his friends.
Not everything is perfect with the film, of course. The idea that Smith's character could be both an Army Lieutenant Colonel, a super fit athletic-looking workout junkie and a medical researcher working on a cure for the viral infection is a bit hard to swallow. The film is also a bit flat in its unwillingness to venture past the mere surface on issues like bioethics and the dangers that modern medicine's hubris poses to the future of humankind.
I believe that's because the filmmakers believe this movie to be nothing more than fiction. Most members of the public -- and most members of the modern medical community -- believe the same thing. Injecting humans with genetically-modified viruses could never cause a global pandemic, could it? Especially not if all the medical researchers only intended to help people, right? But as Smith's character says at one point in the movie, when talking about the loss of over 90 percent of the human beings on Earth, "God didn't do this. WE did."
Why I Am Legend Echoes a Dangerous Truth in Modern MedicineI Am Legend should, I believe, serve as a doorway through which we can all ask ourselves very serious questions about modern medicine mucking around with human DNA. Right now, we have food companies growing genetically modified crops that, if subjected to unlucky gene mutations, could potentially wipe out significant portions of the global food supply, leading to devastating famine and a sharp decline in the global population. That's not fiction: It's the status quo in modern agriculture today. No special effects required.
The FDA and various food processing companies are also pushing for new regulations that would mandate the mass irradiation of all foods. This would be done under the guise of "protecting the people" but would, in fact, lead to the creation of toxic byproducts in those irradiated foods. Those substances, when ingested, are carcinogenic to the human body, leading to huge increases in the risk of cancer and possibly DNA mutations. Again, this isn't science fiction: It's state-of-the-art food preservation technology that's about to be rolled out in the United States and many other countries.
On top of that, biotech companies are now playing God with the human genome, trying to figure out ways to create new, high-profit blockbuster drugs that selectively alter human genes to "cure disease" (or at least manage the disease without actually curing it so that patients need to keep buying more drugs). Given the propensity for pharmaceutical companies to unleash insufficiently-tested drugs onto the public (as they have with Vioxx, Avandia, vaccines and many other drugs), there's little doubt that the drive for Big Pharma profits will take priority over public safety, ultimately resulting in the injection of tens of thousands of patients with gene-altering drugs that may or may not actually be safe.
The public is always used as guinea pigs when it comes to testing drugs. (See Vaccines and Medical Experiments on Children, Minorities, Woman and Inmates.)
Big Pharma is so crazy about selling dangerous drugs to the public that if the virus depicted in the film actually existed, I can definitely see Merck launching it as a "miracle weight loss drug!" Notice that none of the beasts in the movie are fat?
Real Medical Experiment Gone Wrong: TGN1412While it's unlikely that the recipients of such biotech drugs would turn into raging night creatures who are thin, athletic and afraid of sunlight, the truth is actually far scarier. Case in point: The TGN1412 drug trial, which I reported on it March, 2006. Click here to read the original report.
In this drug trial, which tested an experimental arthritis drug on volunteer patients, things went terribly wrong: After being injected with the anti-inflammatory drug TGN1412, patients began tearing their shirts off, screaming that their heads were going to explode. One patient's head swelled to triple its normal size, and patients were passing out, vomiting, or screaming in sheer terror.
Within minutes after the injections, patients were suffering from severe breathing attacks, convulsions and excruciating pain. As reported in The Sun, a U.K. newspaper, the girlfriend of one of the victims had this to say about her boyfriend's status shortly after the experiment went terribly wrong: "He was completely lifeless, like a shell. He can't even move his eyelids. This machine is pumping out his lungs and his face is puffed out like The Elephant Man. A day ago he was fine and now they are saying he could die at any moment. The doctors say they are in the dark because they don't know the drug or what it can do. They don't know what they are dealing with."
This is real life, not science fiction. And yet it sounds a lot like some of the side effects of the viral injection imagined in I Am Legend. Most people think the movie is pure fiction, but I happen to think it strikes a chord of truth: Modern medicine is, indeed, quite capable of making a monumental mistake that unleashes a deadly virus and devastates humankind.
Foreshadowing Disasters Yet to Come From BiotechI hope that I Am Legend is looked at as more than just a work of fiction. It should also serve as a reminder to us all, teaching us to act with extreme caution when we're considering playing God with human DNA. Of course, it's not just human DNA that should concern us; it's also the DNA of the plants that feed our world. I think that human civilization will someday have a huge price to pay for relying on genetically-engineered crops like GM soybeans and GM corn while ignoring the tremendous importance of agricultural biodiversity. The very idea of allowing corporations to patent and "own" the DNA of seeds used to grow staple food crops is, in my view, a crime against nature that will only lead to disaster.
Because, you see, I don't think the future of human civilization will involve super athletic night creatures attacking the living and engaging in kick-ass action sequences fit for a feature film starring Will Smith. Rather, I think the future of human civilization will involve mass starvation, mass sickness, a failed health care system and dwindling natural resources like fresh water and hydrocarbon fuels (oil and gasoline). If we don't make changes right now in the way we treat our seeds, foods, children and environment, then we are all inconvenient passengers on a ship that has set course for a future far more bleak than the one portrayed in I Am Legend. When the food bubble collapses, the water tables run dry, peak oil runs its course and the widespread use of synthetic chemicals in foods and medicines results in a generation of actual human mutants, the future that unfolds on planet Earth is more likely to be called, I Am Starving.
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