Thursday, October 21, 2010

Scientists in Danger who stand up

In the mid-1990s, Verhaag came across a newspaper article that was to set the trend for his next series of films. “I found a small article in the newspaper telling about the so-called terminator seeds,” Verhaag told Organic Connections. “They are patented seeds that only give one yield for a crop, and the next year the farmer has to buy new seeds. This opened my eyes from one second to another: I understood why industry is introducing genetically engineered crops.

“It made me very angry because I saw that the industry is introducing into the society a technology which is not democratically discussed. They just enter it and we have to react or have to live with it—but we were not asked. That was the motivation for my beginning to make films on GMOs.”

Over the next 10 years, Verhaag and his partners produced nine films on GMOs, the most recent of which is entitled Scientists under Attack—Genetic Engineering in the Magnetic Field of Money.

The germ for this film was planted at the very end of Verhaag’s previous GMO documentary, Life Running out of Control. “The reason for Scientists under Attack was because in the last interview in Life Running out of Control, a Norwegian scientist said he believes that only 5 percent of the scientists who are working in this area are really independent. The others are dependent on the industry—paid by industry—and industry is deciding what is to be published and when to publish it. That statement urged me into making this film, and I set out to show scientists who were punished because of their personal conscience.”

The documentary details the sagas of two different scientists, Dr. Árpád Pusztai and Dr. Ignacio Chapela, who each made important discoveries about the potential dangers of genetically modified crops. Both of them were then persecuted by their peers and in the press, and the significant discoveries they had made were buried. While the film follows the stories of what happened to them, it also highlights their crucial work, which has since been disseminated by others, including leading GMO author Jeffrey Smith.

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