from CurrentTV Website
Billed as "a political thriller on GMOs and freedom of speech", this film by the German film-maker Bertram Verhaag tells,
Both suffered the fate of those who challenge the powerful vested interests that dominate agribusiness and scientific research.
Pusztai found that the internal organs of rats fed GM insecticidal potatoes either increased in size or did not develop properly compared with controls.
His experiments turned up no less than 36 significant differences between GM-fed and non-GM-fed animals.
Pusztai, encouraged by his research institute, gave a 150-second
interview on British TV in which he summarized his findings and said
it was unfair to use our fellow citizens as guinea pigs for GM
His research team was disbanded and his data were confiscated...
Lies were circulated about his research that he could not counter due to the gagging order, lifted only later when he was due to appear before a Parliamentary Committee.
For Pusztai's co-researchers, the
gagging order remains in place for life.
problem wasn't just with these GM potatoes but potentially with all
GM foods on the market. The only solution for the industry and its
friends in government was to shoot the messenger.
That came when he was asked to review safety submissions from the GM industry for crops we were already eating - and found that they were scientifically flimsy.
Another scientist whose run-in with the GM industry is featured in the film is Ignacio Chapela, a molecular geneticist at UC Berkeley.
His research, co-authored with David Quist and published in the journal Nature, revealed that Mexican maize had been contaminated with GM genes.
The finding was explosive
because Mexico is the centre of origin for maize and the planting of
GM maize there was illegal.
As Chapela points out in the film, the editor's action flew in the face of scientific method. In the normal way of things, a journal editor publishes a study that he and peer reviewers judge to be sound.
It is for subsequent published studies to confirm or correct the findings. It is not for the editor to state that he would not have published a study had he known then what he knows now - without the benefit of further peer reviewed scientific input.
The editor's move showed how the GM
industry is rewriting the rules of science for its own ends.
When Russian scientist Irina Ermakova's study found high mortality rates and low body weight in rats fed GM soy, and when Austrian government research found that decreased fertility in mice fed GM maize, the industry carried out its usual campaign of vilification.
If the industry were interested in scientific truth, it would push for studies to be repeated with the alleged "flaws" corrected. But this never happens.
Instead, GM companies use their patent-based ownership of GM crops to deny scientists access to research materials - the GM crop and the non-GM parent line control. So the original research showing problems with GM crops is buried under a deluge of smears and follow up studies are not done.
For the public, the difficulty and
expense involved in accessing full research papers makes it hard to
find where the truth lies.
In 1998, UCB entered into a $25 million research partnership with biotech company Novartis (now Syngenta). The deal provoked angry debate on campus and was criticized by a number of faculty members, including Chapela.
Then in 2007, UCB entered into a $500 million research deal with oil giant BP.
The partnership was negotiated in secret, without consultation even within the university. In return for its money, BP gained access to UCB's researchers, control over the research agenda, and co-ownership of commercial rights over inventions.
Chapela says of BP,
The partnership was later spun as one of BP's "beyond petroleum" projects that would take us out of the age of dirty oil and into the new age of solar and renewable energy.
But the small print makes clear that the
deal focuses on genetic engineering for biofuels-proprietary
technologies that will be patented and owned
But as Scientists Under Attack memorably shows, at UCB it's played out on the physical level.
UCB is a divided campus, reminiscent of Berlin before the Wall came down.
There is the public area, which looks like everyone's idea of a pleasant university campus. Then, enclosed in high-security fencing and ringed with "no entry" signs, there is the privatized area, the part of the university that's been co-opted by BP.
No amount of reading about the UCB-BP
deal can prepare you for the sight of what was once a great public
university being turned into something resembling a top-secret
Once a celebrated centre of free speech and academic debate, UCB has become a place where tree-sitting students peacefully protesting against the felling of old oaks on campus are caged inside three rows of high-security fencing.
contrast, the university's colony of (not very dangerous) hyenas are
judged only to need two.
In 2003, five years after Chapela's protest against the Novartis deal and two years after publication of his Mexican maize findings, he was denied tenure. The university only backed down after Chapela threatened to sue.
In Scientists Under Attack, (video) he says:
Chapela adds that the most powerful censorship does not come directly from the GM industry but from closer to home:
In other words, it's not so much that
the GM industry has taken away our power, but rather that we've
given it away.
Only a few years previously, as part of the marketing drive for GM soy, farmers had been invited to a party with free booze.
They were told to arrange their hoes in a circle and ritually burn them. The idea was that hoes were redundant because weeds could be controlled with glyphosate.
glyphosate no longer works and
farmers are being forced back to hoeing.
Kimbrell says the GM industry follows a linear economic model based on a drive towards more and more production, regardless of the cost to nature and ourselves.
He says this model of progress is a delusion:
Kimbrell concludes the film by saying that industry hasn't grasped that we need to evolve into a stable economy enmeshed in ecology:
in New Documentary 'Scientists Under Attack'
from ResponsibleTechnology Website
"One question means one career."
This was the harsh warning of UC Berkeley Professor Ignacio Chapela for those daring to conduct independent research on genetically engineered foods and crops.
Both he and biologist
Arpad Pusztai dared to asked
questions and do the research. And then all hell broke lose.
Arthouse says the,
And GMWatch writes,
When Dr. Pusztai voiced his concerns about the health risks of genetically modified (GM) foods during a nationally televised interview in August 1998, his was not simply just another voice in a contentious debate.
Pusztai was the world leader in his field, and he had received major government funding to come up with the official method for testing the safety of GM foods.
His protocols were supposed to become
the required tests before any new GMO entered the European market.
Pusztai was an insider, and an advocate of GM foods - that is until
he actually ran those tests on
supposedly harmless GM potatoes.
His team inserted a gene from the
snowdrop plant into the potatoes, which did in fact protect the GM
crop from the insects.
A third was fed not only the natural potatoes, but they also received a dose of the same insecticide that the GM potato produced.
This way, if the insecticide was harmful, he would see the same health problems in both the group that ate the GM potatoes, and those that ate the diet spiked with the insecticide.
To his surprise, only those that ate the
GM potato had severe problems - in every organ and every system he
The intestines and stomach lining, for example, increased in size, the liver and kidneys were smaller, and the overall rate of growth was retarded.
And the immune system suffered.
Since the rats that ate the natural
potatoes plus the insecticide did not have these issues, there was
one obvious conclusion - the process of genetically engineering the
potatoes caused unpredicted side effects, turning a harmless food
into a dangerous one.
He knew this because a few months earlier, he had reviewed the confidential submissions from the biotech companies which allowed their GM soy and corn onto the market.
They would never detect the changes in
Monsanto, on the other hand, were doing as little as
possible to get their foods on the market as quickly as possible.
Thus, the GM crops being consumed in the UK and
the U.S. might lead to similar damage in the gut, brain and organs of
the entire population.
After two days of high-profile media coverage throughout Europe, however, the director received two phone calls from the UK Prime Minister's Office.
Pusztai was told the next morning that his contract would not be renewed, he was silenced with threats of a lawsuit, his team was disbanded, and the protocols were not to be implemented in GMO safety assessments.
And then came the attacks.
They were determined to counter the negative media coverage and protect the reputation of GMOs - even if it meant promoting blatant lies and sacrificing a top scientist's career.
Because Pusztai was gagged, he said,
After seven excruciating months, a committee at the UK Parliament invited Pusztai to speak.
the gag order, which allowed Pusztai to ultimately publish his
research, and be interviewed for this film.
Although GM corn was not yet legally grown in the country, Chapela decided to equip the Mexicans with a laboratory that could test for its presence, in case GMOs were eventually introduced.
To help with the training, his colleague David Quist brought GM corn from the U.S.
For the non-GM control corn, Chapela said,
Apparently GM corn imported as food was
unknowingly being grown, and had already started contaminating the
source of corn's biodiversity.
Chapela and Quist wrote up the finding, which was accepted for publication by the prominent journal Nature.
The disinformation campaign went viral.
It put huge pressure on Nature, spread the false notion that contamination had not taken place, and resulted in a campaign against Chapela by biotech advocates in his University.
The work of Russian scientist Irina Ermakova, for example, was viciously attacked, and there were repeated attempts to intimidate her:
Peeking through these stories of personal attacks are the very real dangers of GMOs, which compel the audience to question the use of GMOs in their own diets.
Consider the impact of Ermakova's research
on young women planning to raise a family. After she fed genetically
engineered soy flour to female rats, more than half of their
offspring died within three weeks.
A visit to Brazil introduces herbicide-tolerant Roundup Ready soybeans, engineered to make weeding a field easier. Farmers can spray Monsanto's Roundup herbicide right on the field, and the GMOs survive.
But this has led to massive overuse of Roundup, which in
turn has led to the emergence of herbicide-tolerant superweeds - no
longer controllable with Roundup.
Unfortunately, they are part of the
He was on the team that sued the FDA in 1998, forcing them to turn over nearly 60,000 pages of secret internal memos.
Kimbrell extracts key memos from massive filing cabinets in his office, reading the scientists' warnings:
Instead, the U.S. government maintains the illusion that nothing is wrong, and that this science works just as the biotech companies are telling us.
This is beautifully illustrated with excerpts of biotech apologist Nina Fedoroff, the former science advisor to the Secretary of State.
Her bland assurances about the safety of
GMOs crumble with each new revelation in the film.
He says the average rational person would ask,
Kimbrell, who wrote the book Your Right to Know, says it was,
But as Chapela's discovery of self-propagating GMO contamination illustrates, the risk of GMOs extends well beyond individual considerations.
Scientists Under Attack
Original video in English
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