GRAS: Generally Recognized as Safe
About The Project
Alex, the regional manager of a veterinary pharmaceutical company, risks losing the majority of her client base, unless she can buy their loyalty before new FDA guidlines– requiring farmers to acquire prescriptions for antibiotics for livestock– become law. With corperate superiors threatening to close her branch, if she can’t meet her quota, Alex endeavors to win the veterinarians’ business by touting a loophole in the new law that promises profit, despite the law’s intentions. When an unknown veterinarian challenges the legitimacy of her recommendations, Alex’s job, family, and the foundations of her beliefs hang in the balance.
WHY GRAS NOW?
After many years of being concerned about our food industry’s focus on short-term profit over public safety with regards to the use of pharmaceuticals, I decided to research the actual governmental policy that is supposed to protect us. I bypassed the numerous activist sites and went straight to the primary sources — the actual legal documents that govern the industry. My findings were a bizarre combination of contradictory policies that are laden with loopholes and an undeniable tendency to defer the responsibility of regulation directly to the companies that stand to profit from the least regulation.
I found that most of my friends, family, and colleagues were not aware of this tendency. As a whole, they were shocked to learn about how relatively ineffective the governmental agencies are in many aspects of regulating and protecting our food. However, no matter how surprised or frustrated they were upon learning this new information, they, almost unanimously, adopted the ‘general glaze’ immediately afterward. The eyes disengaged, and the genuine concern, no matter how disturbed they initially were, was pushed aside.
We are making GRAS to address this question: When does policy become personal? At the root of the story is Alex’s conflict between the genuine concern she has for her daughter, knowing how her company’s actions threaten her daughter’s safety, and the simultaneous need to survive by doing well at her job in order to provide for her. As the film progresses, she is forced to confront this discrepency and reconcile the two.
While Alex is forced to make a choice, however, most of us never need to directly confront the results of the policy our actions indirectly support. We, too, are busy merely surviving. However, I hope that, by following Alex’s journey, we will begin to think about, not only current food industry practices and our implicit role in their propogation, but also about what in our lives legitimately requires the ‘blind eye’ and what deserves greater attention and involvement.