Segments in this Video

One Huge Experiment (03:43)


Genetically modified food is finding its way into the supermarkets of consumers prior to it being cleared as safe. The biotechnology empire is quick to attack individual scientists who discover flaws in GMO food.

No Independent Science (03:16)

Writer and journalist Jeffrey Smith receives a call from a farmer whose pigs cannot get pregnant because of the genetically modified corn it eats. Few whistleblowers exist because farmers and scientists are both funded by the industry. Eighty-six percent of soybeans in the U.S. come from Monsanto Chemical Company and are genetically modified to withstand the company's herbicide.

Highly Significant Differences (04:29)

Professor Arpad Pusztai was an expert researcher with 35 years of animal and human nutrition studies when he was relieved of all responsibilities after publishing his findings on the dangers of genetically modified food in a TV interview. According to Pusztai, mice that were fed GMO potatoes had oddly developed internal organs: the gut, for example, would increase in size in the mice, while other tissues like the liver would be underdeveloped.

Human Guinea Pigs (02:47)

Smith has worked with over 30 scientists in two years to document the health risks of genetically modified food. Smith highlighted Pusztai's work because it indicates that the process of genetic engineering is what creates issues, not the herbicides used.

Safety Studies (03:13)

With permission from his director, Pusztai spoke on television at a time when he was one of the few people in the world who realized the danger of genetically modified food. Two days later, the UK prime minister placed a phone call, and Pusztai was fired with threats of a lawsuit.

Demanding Enforcement (02:43)

Dr. Andrew Kimbrell, one of two lawyers prosecuted by the Food and Drug Administration in 1998, shows internal FDA documents that demonstrate the suppression of science on GMOs by the FDA. Scientists asked for long-term studies to determine the safety of GMO crops that were denied by the FDA and never completed.

Suppression of Science (03:30)

Calgene created the first genetically modified food that reached the public: the Flavr Savr tomato. Former consultant on the tomato, molecular biologist Nina Federoff, recalls an FDA scientist telling a board meeting that the tomato was simply a tomato with a gene that extended its shelf life.

No New Benefits (03:40)

It was imperative for the biotech industry to produce GMO foods and get them on the market without consumers knowing because there are no benefits of eating GMO foods. Federoff argues for the safety of GMO foods because of the amount of testing done, while Kimbrell maintains the opposite position and discusses his path to working in activism.

Center of Origin of Corn (02:40)

Microbiology Professor Ignacio Chapela worked with indigenous Mexican communities to create a laboratory able to detect transgenic material in Mexico. Through this process, they discovered that GMO corn already existed in Mexico, despite it being illegal under Mexican government laws.

Invisible Transgenics (03:54)

At the CIMMYT Maize Germplasm Bank, diverse varieties of seed are stored that have been developed over thousands of years. Because the farmers that raised each type of corn are developing new strains, while other farmers are leaving the countryside and abandoning the planting of corn, strains are being lost.

Fictitious Characters (05:08)

Chapela describes the plan for an internet map that will allow rural Mexican farmers to see the location of other farmers. Chapela reveals that the biotechnology industry hired public relations companies to spread false information and assure the safety of transgenic materials.

Forbidden From Research (03:21)

Chapela's team discovered that transgenic corn is not controlled and that it is found up to 1,000 miles from where it is legally supposed to be planted, which was problematic for the biotech industry. Pusztai took time away from the genetic modification scandal to rejuvenate in Hungary during the time when he was banned from research.

Years of Gagging (02:02)

Pusztai's wife, Professor Zsuzsa Bardocz, shares how painful the excommunication was for Pusztai. She worked continuously along her husband on the GMO project. He was given permission by the British House of Parliament to talk about it, but she and 20 other people have been permanently forbidden from discussing what happened at the Rowett at that time.

A Big Plus (02:23)

Pusztai says that he never felt disconnected from the scientific community because of his rapport with other scientists unrelated to the GMO project. Because of the project, Prince Charles shared a visit with Pusztai. The prince apologized to the scientist.

Diametric Opposition (02:22)

Pusztai says eating an animal that was fed on genetically modified substances is eating an animal that has already been changed. Federoff says that virtually every food currently eaten has a genetically modified ingredient in it and that not a single case of malaise exists attributable to such ingredients.

Astounding Evidence (02:37)

A study in Vienna suggested that mice fed genetically modified maize have lower fertility rates than other mice, which is consistent with other studies regarding soybeans. Smith says Monsanto does not allow people to use its product for studies, making the completion of studies difficult.

Poison Vendors (03:12)

In Brazil, Professor Antonio Andrioli says that when genetic engineering was first used in soy production, farmers were gifted glyphosate and told they would not have to hoe anymore. Produced by Monsanto as an herbicide, weeds have now grown resistant to glyphosate and the soy cannot grow.

Completely Resistant (03:04)

A new kind of weed, Canadian fleabane, has grown resistant to glyphosate and grows higher than the soybean plants, robbing their sunlight. Andrioli says the cultivation of GM soy in Brazil has led to an increase of 85 percent over four years of glyphosate usage, an ecological catastrophe. Monsanto has patented glyphosate under the name Roundup.

Neo-Feudalist Times (02:26)

Andrioli draws a parallel between the origin of private property and ecological feudalism of today. Religion was once the justification of power-wielding practices; today, science plays a similar role.

In Love With Fungi (03:29)

Chapela says that sampling air can allow the interpretation of DNA and that such research should give people the capacity to see DNA that is invisible to them, particularly that of transgenic material. Chapela shows that fungi drove his research career, looking for the invisible, microbial aspects of fungi that are too small to see. The then second largest pharmaceutical transnational company contacted Chapela and invited him to perform his research for them in Switzerland.

Ideas for the World (03:48)

Since his involvement with the agrochemical company, Chapela has worked to unite his interests in microbial research and his interest in the institutions that do scientific research. Chapela shows a unique place that sits at the border of the public campus of the University of California Berkeley and the campus' private, corporate, and military research center, the site that was the location of the nuclear physics Manhattan Project.

Behind the Fences (02:05)

British Petroleum paid the University of California Berkeley $500 million to construct their own buildings on the campus and to have access to a number of resources of the university including the students and some control over the university's curriculum. Chapela says this is dangerous because it allows BP to have say over what is and is not considered science.

Corporatized Science (03:30)

Chapela visits a site that was once a grove of old oak trees; the university announced that the trees were to be cut down in order to house buildings in association with British Petroleum and that student protests followed. Students sat in the trees for two years to protest, but were forcibly starved out and the trees were cut down. Chapela fears for the existence of public universities performing public research for public knowledge in the face of this new privatized science performed by companies like British Petroleum.

Scientific Limitations (02:10)

Though the Free Speech Movement is celebrated at Berkeley, Chapela says that free speech does not exist at the university. Chapela says that people with political grudges against him have power in the establishment and that they make it difficult for him to publish his ideas.

Breakdown of Knowledge Making (03:30)

In Tromsoe, Norway, Chapela finds refuge from the political pressures of the biotech industry. He addresses an audience on the subjects of conflict of interest and conflict of commitment in the scientific community, telling the people that they should ask each presenter who they are to understand their conflicts and the information they present in such a framework.

Holistic Approach (02:40)

Dr. Terje Traavik of the Institute of Gene Ecology says that they created the science of gene ecology based on the knowledge that genetic material is influenced by the environment. The science takes a holistic approach and therefore involves many other disciplines. He says that scientists are creating a movement to protect themselves from the attacks of the biotech industry that will continue to come.

Manipulating Life (02:04)

Chapela compares the power of the technocrats to that of a religion, a religion with the dogma that humans can change nature at will. He calls this hubris because humans are changing something they cannot comprehend, perhaps irreversibly.

Threat to Rivers (03:04)

Caddisflies, the primary food source for the trout in a river, are killed by a type of corn with a pesticide known as BT. The corn surrounds the river which could have a dramatic effect on the ecosystem, as discovered by Indiana University. Kimbrell says that the researchers who made the discovered were immediately attacked by the biotechnology industry.

Credits: Scientists Under Attack: Genetic Engineering in the Magnetic Field of Money (01:07)

Credits: Scientists Under Attack: Genetic Engineering in the Magnetic Field of Money

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Scientists Under Attack: Genetic Engineering in the Magnetic Field of Money

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Can we trust our scientists? This timely documentary explores how the heavy hand of the agriculture industry is steering science towards its own interests, eliminating legitimate research and silencing any critical opinions. Taking a close look at genetic engineering and the powerful vested interests that dominate its research, Scientists Under Attack reveals the frightening reality of modern science, as objective investigation is corrupted by corporate money.

Length: 89 minutes

Item#: BVL118315

ISBN: 978-1-63521-440-6

Copyright date: ©2009

Closed Captioned

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