by Bertram Verhaag
review by Claire Robinson
13 October 2010

from CurrentTV Website

Deutsch version




Billed as "a political thriller on GMOs and freedom of speech", this film by the German film-maker Bertram Verhaag tells,

the stories of two scientists, Dr Arpad Pusztai and Dr Ignacio Chapela, whose research showed negative findings on GM foods and crops.

Both suffered the fate of those who challenge the powerful vested interests that dominate agribusiness and scientific research.

They were vilified and intimidated, attempts were made to suppress and discredit their research, and their careers were derailed.

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 foods.

For two days, Pusztai was treated as a hero by his institute. But following a phone call from UK prime minister Tony Blair to the institute's head, Pusztai was fired and gagged under threat of a lawsuit.


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.

Pusztai's results threatened the GM industry because they showed that it wasn't the insecticide engineered into the potatoes that damaged the rats, but the genetic engineering process itself.


So the 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.

Traumatic though this was for Pusztai, it wasn't the biggest shock he had to face regarding GM foods.


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.

"That was a turning point in my life," said Pusztai.


"I was doing safety studies; they were doing as little as possible [in terms of safety testing] to get their foods on the market as quickly as they could."

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.

Chapela found himself the target of a vicious internet campaign condemning him as more of an activist than a scientist and claiming that his paper was false. Nature's editor published a partial retraction of the paper.


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.

To add insult to injury, the internet campaign against Chapela turned out not to have been initiated and fuelled not by his scientific peers but by fake citizens, "sockpuppets" invented by the Bivings Group, a public relations firm contracted by Monsanto.

Scientists Under Attack goes on to show how the GM industry has blocked the evolution of scientific knowledge.


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.

The film also highlights an extreme example of the corporate takeover of science - at University of California, Berkeley (UCB), where Chapela is a professor.


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,

"They decide what is called science."

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 by BP.

Most of us think of the enclosure of knowledge by industry interests in the abstract - as figures on a balance sheet, and conflicts of interest lurking in the darker corners of scientists' psyches.


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 military installation.

Seemingly, the culture of the university has changed along with its alignment.


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.


In contrast, the university's colony of (not very dangerous) hyenas are judged only to need two.

UCB has dealt harshly with critics of its deals with industry.


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:

"In genetic engineering, one question means one career. You ask one question, you get the answer. You might or might not be able to publish it. That's the end of your career.


What's unique in my case is that I survived."

Chapela adds that the most powerful censorship does not come directly from the GM industry but from closer to home:

"It's in the consciousness of the scientist. You censor yourself."

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.

While some sectors of the scientific community remain silent in the face of GM industry dominance, nature is proving a tougher opponent. GM monocultures worldwide are threatened by the rapid spread of glyphosate-resistant superweeds. Here again, no amount of reading about the issue can match the visual impact of weeds effortlessly smothering a field of GM soy plants in Brazil.


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.


Now, glyphosate no longer works and farmers are being forced back to hoeing.

The message about who is really in charge is underlined by public interest attorney and activist Andrew Kimbrell, who is interviewed fishing for trout in a river. He points out that trout eat caddis-flies, which can be killed by Bt maize toxin leaching into rivers.


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:

"Everything is made from the earth - these clothes, this camera, this fly rod. There is only one economy - the one that we see around us right now.


The other economy, of capital and technology and the stock market, is all made up in our heads."

Kimbrell concludes the film by saying that industry hasn't grasped that we need to evolve into a stable economy enmeshed in ecology:

"We are going to have to follow the laws of nature and not the artificial laws of any technology. The salmon come back to where they were born to spawn and die, and then the young come out.


It's not linear, it's a life-giving circle."







Biotech's Dirty Tricks

...Exposed in New Documentary 'Scientists Under Attack'
by Jeffrey Smith
September 14, 2011

from ResponsibleTechnology Website

Deutsch version

Spanish version



"Scientists Under Attack" reveals the total distortion of science being used by the biotech industry, and the way in which honest scientists who try to question GMOs are viciously attacked and discredited.







"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.

"You ask one question, you get the answer and you might or might not be able to publish it; but that is the end of your career."

Both he and biologist Arpad Pusztai dared to asked questions and do the research. And then all hell broke lose.

Using stunning visuals filmed on three continents, veteran German filmmaker Bertram Verhaag tracks the fate of these two scientists at the hands of a multi-billion dollar industry that is desperate to hide the dangers of their genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

BR Online says of the film,

"Belief in noble and incorrupt research and science is reduced to absurdity."

Arthouse says the,

"movie shows how purchased truth becomes the currency in the perfidious business between science and multinationals."

And GMWatch writes,

"Original research showing problems with GM crops is buried under a deluge of smears and follow up studies are not done."



The insect-killing, career-ending potato

"As a scientist looking at it and actively working on the field, I find that it's very, very unfair to use our fellow citizens as guinea pigs."

Arpad Pusztai

UK's World in Action TV show

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.

The high-tech spuds were engineered to produce their own pesticide.

"The point of the whole genetic modification experiment was to protect the potato against aphids, which are one of the major pests in Scotland," he said.

His team inserted a gene from the snowdrop plant into the potatoes, which did in fact protect the GM crop from the insects.

As part of his safety studies, he fed that insecticide producing GM potato to rats, along with a complete and balanced diet. Another group of rats ate natural potatoes.


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 looked at.



Massive health problems linked to GMOs

"After the animals were killed and dissected," Pusztai recalled, "we found out that in comparison with the non-genetically modified potatoes, their internal organs developed differently."

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.


Pusztai emphasized,

"They found in those data 36 - 36! - very highly significant differences between the GM-fed animals and the non-GM fed animals."

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.

When Pusztai saw the extensive damage that his potatoes caused in the lab animals, he also realized that if biotech companies had done the safety studies, the dangerous potatoes would have easily made it to market.


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 were flimsy," he said. "They were not scientifically well founded."

They would never detect the changes in GMO-fed animals.

Reading the industry studies was a turning point in Pusztai's life. He realized what he was doing and what the industry scientists were doing was diametrically opposed. He was doing safety studies.


Companies like Monsanto, on the other hand, were doing as little as possible to get their foods on the market as quickly as possible.

Pusztai also realized that the GM soy and corn already on the market had been produced using the same process that had created his dangerous potato.


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.

Thus, during his TV interview, Pusztai flatly stated:

"If I had the choice, I would certainly not eat [GM foods] until I see at least comparable experimental evidence which we are producing for genetically modified potatoes."




After the TV show aired, Pusztai was a hero at his prestigious Rowett Institute, where the director praised his work to the press, calling it world-class research.


After two days of high-profile media coverage throughout Europe, however, the director received two phone calls from the UK Prime Minister's Office.

"It's only when we think there was political pressure coming from the top that the situation changed," said Pusztai.


"And then the director, to save his own skin, decided that the best way to deal with the situation [was],

A) to destroy me


B) to make me shut up"...

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.

Coordinated between the Institute, biotech academics, and even the pro-GMO UK government, a campaign to destroy Pusztai's reputation was launched.


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,

"whatever they did say on TV, radio and wrote in the newspapers, I could not deny it, I could not correct it, I could not say what was the real situation."

"The most hurtful thing of all," remembers Pusztai's wife Susan, "was that he wasn't allowed to talk to his colleagues and his colleagues were not allowed to talk to him.


So whenever he entered a room, they went silent within seconds."

After seven excruciating months, a committee at the UK Parliament invited Pusztai to speak.


This lifted the gag order, which allowed Pusztai to ultimately publish his research, and be interviewed for this film.



Oops - GMOs weren't supposed to be there

Ignacio Chapela, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, had "a long-term relationship with a group of indigenous communities" in Mexico.


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,

"we thought we should just use the local corn, which, of course, is going to be clean and wonderful. And the surprise came when the negative control started coming out positive.


That means we started finding transgenic materials where they were not supposed to be."

Chapela says,

"The reason why our findings were so astounding was because it was thought that there was no transgenic corn being planted in Mexico at all. And people wanted it that way...


Why? Because Mexico is the center of origin of corn. The Mexican government was worried about maintaining the integrity of the land races."

Apparently GM corn imported as food was unknowingly being grown, and had already started contaminating the source of corn's biodiversity.

According to Chapela the industry,

"had been telling the world that they really had control over these crops, that if they planted... transgenic corn in one field, that transgenic corn would not go anywhere else.


So our discovery that we were finding transgenic corn maybe a thousand miles from the nearest legal transgenic corn field was a huge problem for them because it really showed very simply, and with real evidence, that they really did not have control."

Chapela and Quist wrote up the finding, which was accepted for publication by the prominent journal Nature.


This made,

"many people within the industry very nervous and very unhappy," says Chapella. They "started a discreditation campaign for the paper.


0They did not want the paper to be published."

Unable to stop Nature, however, a Monsanto PR company - the Bivings Group - deployed plan B.

"They created two fictitious characters, two doctors," recounts Chapela. "And these two doctors went on the internet and started spreading rumors that what we had said was false and that the paper was flawed."

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.

"In my case," says Chapela, "I was pushed out of the university at least three times. Every time I fought back and we managed to keep my job. But it's been very difficult."



Trashing scientists worldwide

The treatment of Pusztai and Chapela illustrates what happens around the world to scientists who discover harm from GM crops.


The work of Russian scientist Irina Ermakova, for example, was viciously attacked, and there were repeated attempts to intimidate her:

papers were burnt on her desk and samples were stolen from her lab.

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.

The film also unravels the claims of biotech benefits on the farm level.


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.

A natural reaction to these stories might be to ask why isn't the government telling us the truth and protecting us.


Unfortunately, they are part of the problem.



FDA cover up

The FDA scientists who reviewed GMOs in the early 1990s were uniformly concerned about their health impacts, according to attorney Andrew Kimbrell, who runs the D.C.-based Center for Food Safety.


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:

  • toxins

  • nutritional problems

  • loss of biodiversity

  • change in water use, etc.

"So the scientists asked for these studies," says Kimbrell.


"But the politicians at the FDA and in the administration at that time (1998) said no. They suppressed the science. And these questions, these studies, have never been done."

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.



Unprecedented risks - no benefits

"No one gets up in the morning saying I want to go buy a genetically engineered food," says Kimbrell. "They offer no benefits, no more nutrition, no more flavor, no nothing. They only offer risks."

He says the average rational person would ask,

"Why would I buy a food that offers me no new benefits but only risks?"

Kimbrell, who wrote the book Your Right to Know, says it was,

"critical for the industry to get these foods out without anyone knowing, because if they knew, they would obviously choose not to buy them."

But as Chapela's discovery of self-propagating GMO contamination illustrates, the risk of GMOs extends well beyond individual considerations.


He warns,

"We are manipulating life in a way that we really do not understand, we cannot control, and then we're letting it go into the environment.


So it's a change that is radical, that is unprecedented, that is beyond anything we can understand, and it is irretrievable.


We cannot get it back. That's my concern!"







 Scientists Under Attack

Original video in English



Also HERE...



Increasingly, the potatoes, tomatoes, corn, and other vegetable products that we buy in the supermarket are genetically modified. Food inspection authorities and biologists experimenting with the manipulation of DNA structures for large food companies claim that these products have undergone sufficient testing and form no danger to public health.

According to the experts featured in 'Scientists under Attack - Science in the Magnetic Field of Money,' however, this is a blatant lie.


Big public companies have commercial interests that result in censored research results and crucial questions that go unanswered. Microbiologist Àrpàd Pusztai found 36 significant differences between rats that had eaten genetically modified potatoes and rats that had eaten "normal" ones.


Among the first group the liver was less well-developed, but when Pusztai announced this in a television interview, he was fired. After publication of negative research data in Nature magazine, his colleague Ignacio Chapela was attacked online in a viral marketing campaign to discredit his results.


The editors of Nature proceeded to write an editorial admitting that they should not have published the data, bringing their prestigious publication's independent reputation into question.


The same applies to universities that accept large sums of money from businesses performing food research.


Can scientists still be trusted?





This file has being moved HERE...