Raise awareness of environmental health issues in order to better protect our children and future generations.

EMF Studies

07 November 2012

Documentary "Scientists Under Attack" : GMO Research

Dr. Arpad Pusztai
The first part of the 59-minute 2010 documentary “Scientists Under Attack”, produced and written by Bertram Verhaag, describes the inside story of independent research on the safety of genetically modified (GM) food and crops.  Almost all the scientists undertaking research on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are funded either directly or indirectly by industry.  It is very difficult to conduct independent research because companies like Monsanto do not allow scientists to undertake experiments on their patented GM products. The film features Jeffrey Smith, Arpad Pusztai, one of the first independent scientists to test for the safety of GMO foods, and Ignacio Chapela.

Trailer for "Scientists Under Attack"

Pusztai is a biochemist and nutritionist who spent 36 years at the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen, Scotland.  He researched the effect on rats from being fed GM potatoes and found that their internal organs developed differently.  His tests revealed 36 “very highly significant” differences in the rats fed GM potatoes compared to those being fed non-GM potatoes.  “It is very unfair,” he said, “to use our fellow citizens as guinea pigs.”  He emphasized that the process of creating GM potatoes caused problems in these animals, not the insecticide that was inserted into the potatoes.

Is this damaging our brains, guts, organs?  In the past 10 years in the United States, food-related illnesses have nearly doubled since GM food was introduced into the diet.

In 1998, Pusztai  was fired from his position at the Institute, gagged, and threatened with a lawsuit after publicly announcing the results of his research on GM potatoes.  Excerpts of a recent talk by Pusztai are shown where he says that animals fed GM material are “changed into a different animal and we are eating these animals without any safety assessment.”  To date, some 18 years after the introduction of GMOs into the food supply, no long-term studies have been undertaken on its safety.  The attitude of industry is : “If you don’t know, you can’t be responsible.”  [In August 2012, the results of tests on rats fed a Monsanto Round Up-tolerant GM corn, conducted by the independent researcher, Gilles-Eric Seralini, were published in the journal, Food and Chemical Toxicology.  Pressure may be exerted on the journal to retract the study.]                      

Andrew Kimbell, one of the two lawyers who sued the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1998 over its suppression of science on GMOs, is interviewed.  He gathered 60,000 pages of internal FDA documents including from their scientists who were calling for testing of GMO foods for toxicity, allergens, immune response, lower nutrition, and environmental contamination.

The film takes us to Mexico where Ignacio Chapela set up a lab to test GM crops.  GM material in corn was being found in spite of the fact that it was still illegal to plant GM corn in Mexico in 2010, the year the movie was produced.  His research was discredited.  The industry hired professional propaganda companies to do viral marketing, creating fictitious scientists to spread rumors that the research paper that Chapel was about to have published in Nature was false.  The reputable journal expressed doubts about publishing the article.

In Brazil, farmers are using greater amounts of pesticides such as Monsanto’s Round Up Ready (glysophate) on soy crops.  Fields are now being completely taken over with weeds taller than the soy, despite using 8 times the amount of Round Up.  Scientists in Argentina found that Round Up could cause brain, intestinal, and heart defects in fetuses.

Chapela moved to the University of Berkeley, California, to conduct research and to teach.  BP had just offered $500 million to the university in exchange for erecting new buildings, sealed off from the public, and for access to the university curriculum and the papers it intended to publish.  Students put up resistance when they learned that BP would be cutting down old trees to make way for the buildings.  Chapel describes the authorities’ reaction to the resistance as ugly.  A “Guantanamo-like” situation was created where several persons were trapped in the area behind barbed wire.

[What is behind BP research at Berkeley:
"The ... Stop BP movement began as a response to British Petroleum’s offer to fund a secretive half-billion dollar bio-energy laboratory on the University of California at Berkeley campus. Ostensibly, the idea is to genetically engineer plants to yield more ethanol, but other likely projects include research into better burning ethanol. BP learned awhile back in New South Wales that high ethanol content burns out engines. They learned this from their customers who were livid to discover the damage after they had breakdowns and stopped buying BP products. But such incidents now seem to serve BP’s interests since they make the issue of biofuel research seem pressing, thus helping them push research deals through quickly and out of sight.

"The Stop BP at Berkeley Campaign, however, worries not only about a lack of oversight, but also that there is no guarantee that BP or UC Berkeley will devote any of this research treasure to ensuring the safety of food supplies and fragile ecologies as these new organisms (or products) are grown and released."  
(Source:  "Biofuels and the Green Resistance," Counterpunch, 15 March 2007)]

Chapela spoke out against the incident and still managed to hold his position at the university.  “People don’t realize what’s happening and will wake up too late,” he said.  “We are going through a meltdown of the regulatory system… Public universities doing public research will disappear.”

Chapela “fled” to Norway, to a place that is “independent from industry money and influence”, for reflection and freer expression.   A Norwegian bio-safety scientist, Terje Traavik, is shown conducting teaching on GMOs.  Some of his African students talk about the importance of local seeds having the potential to increase crop yields as opposed to GMO seed.

This is an interesting and thought-provoking film.

Note:  I watched the first part of the film (52 min.) on YouTube under copyright for limited viewing, and the rest of the film, labeled “Scientists Under Attack” parts C and D (these parts are of poor quality). Hopefully, the 59-minute version referenced above is not a watered-down version.

This film was recommended by the political and social blog, “Tap” (www.tap.blogspot.com).

Review by Meris Michaels

1 comment:

  1. These documentaries are really helpful. Other GMO documentary films like "The World According to Monsanto" and "The Future of Food" are amazing eye openers on GMO food debate. Let's all reject GMO foods and use organic food instead!. Let's all arm ourself with information on hazardous GMO Foods.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.