Bertram from Germany writes “there was an interim injunction from Monsanto versus our film “LIFE RUNNING OUT OF CONTROL“.
(See future postings for updates.)
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PRESS RELEASE, JULY 2004
Wednesday, July 14, 23:00 p.m.
Life Running Out of Control – Gene Food and Designer Babies
A Film Produced by Bertram Verhaag and Gabriele Kröber
Editor: Dr. Gudrun Hanke-El Ghomri
Genetic technology is one of the most important topics of our century. The film made by Bertram Verhaag and Gabriele Kröber demonstrates that the risks and perils of gene manipulation have not been fully estimated up to now, neither with regard to plants, animals nor even humans.
In Canada, genetically modified canola and soya have been cultivated on a large scale for years. Percy Schmeiser was one of those Canadian farmers who cultivated canola in the traditional way – until a heavy storm blew genetically modified canola onto his fields during harvest time. Canola, which was patented by the US corporation Monsanto. Since then, Monsanto has been suing Schmeiser for illegal cultivation of its patented seed.
In India, many small farmers are faced with ruin because Monsanto’s genetically modified cotton, approved in 2002 for the first time, had produced a disastrous crop. Thousands of farmers see the only escape from debts in suicide. Vandana Shiva, author and environmental advocate, with a Ph.D. in physics, has dedicated herself to protecting the rights of India’s small farmers and preserving bio-diversity for more than 20 years. She collects traditional seeds and passes them on to farmers. Vandana Shiva is firmly opposed to patenting foodstuffs in any form. Fifteen years ago she founded the privately-funded experimental farm NAVDANYA.
“Aqua Bounty”, a Canadian company, is shortly expected to obtain market approval of its sterile, genetically modified giant salmon. Can the consumption of “gene food” cause chronic diseases and a weakening of the immune system? At least some scientists harbor this suspicion. Only a few scientists are doing independent – without the financial support of private industry – research on the impact of transgenic animals and plants on the environment and health, as for example, the Norwegian Terje Traavic.
Since the final sequencing of the human genome, a cure for illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, diabetes or Alzheimer’s appeared to be in the offing.
Genes for criminal behavior, depression or alcoholism were sought after.
The reproduction industry promotes the concept of the “perfect” child by means of genetic analysis.
In Iceland a large data bank has been created that is owned by a private company. Blood samples, DNA analyses and available data on all Icelandic patients are supposed to be collected here, thus enabling certain genes to be assigned to various hereditary and endemic diseases. The Swiss company F. Hoffmann-LaRoche has pledged $200 million – however, only after the data has been supplied – for the identification of genes that are responsible for certain diseases. The impact of gene technology on our lives is increasing. And we are often unaware of this.
Gene technology: a golden opportunity or a risky intervention into life processes? For Bertram Verhaag the answer is unequivocal: This is a gigantic human experiment without a control group.
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BACKGROUND FOR NEWCOMERS:
Last year while our network was battling Roundup Resistant Wheat, we worked with two different filmmakers who came from Germany to Saskatchewan – Manfred from German Public Television, and BERTRAM VERHAAG who is an independent documentary film maker.
If you mention a video “Blue Eyes, Brown Eyes” to educators in Canada, the United States and in many, many countries around the world, they will respond with enthusiasm. In 1995-6 Bertram and his crew made THAT DOCUMENTARY, which is about disempowerment – not disempowerment “in theory”, but by visceral demonstration using real people. The video is widely used internationally in the fight against racism.
We continue to work with Bertram and Manfred. On my part, it is not just a “work” relationship, but one of friends. I have great admiration and respect for the work they are doing.
Some of the footage and commentary for Bertram’s documentary “LIFE RUNNING OUT OF CONTROL” was obtained in Saskatchewan while he was here last year.
“LIFE RUNNING OUT OF CONTROL” takes you around the world on an exploration of what is happening in the universe of transgenics. You see pigs that are the product of Pig crossed with Human genes. Fish for commercial enterprise that are the product of fish genes crossed with growth genes from non-fishes to produce fish, that are at the end of a year, 6 times larger than the natural species. You see the problems that are created, but completely glossed over and not addressed … the (to me) frightening inability of scientists and Governments (PEOPLE!) TO THINK. Psychological denial – the same as in the email just circulated – “EPA to use poor kids as guinea pigs to test toxic chemicals”. Some huge failure created by people working in concert with each other, and individually perceiving no responsibility.
” … We are trying to do our part from good old Europe. As you maybe know already there was an interim injunction from Monsanto versus our film “LIFE RUNNING OUT OF CONTROL”. Last week was a discussion at the court and we found a way both sides can live with- and now the film is on the market again.
What Monsanto asked to change was the following: They (Monsanto) claimed that we had shown Percy Schmeiser only as a victim and not as “actively RoundUpReady Canola cultivating farmer”. Monsanto could ask for this because this is cited in the Supreme Court Ruling (even it is a mistake by the Supreme Court) so we had to change one sentence which fortunately didn’t at all change our film.
Second good news: we sold the film to SCN (Saskatchewan Networks) in Regina. They will air the film as North American Premiere in February, 10 th 2005 at 8:30pm. …
I hope you are well and healthy and have a good time in spite of all this surrounding problems.
Very best wishes- from Munich,
(ME, SANDRA, WRITING:)
I have VHS copies of ”LIFE RUNNING OUT OF CONTROL” – the original pre-Monsanto version!! Please contact me if you wish to obtain. (UPDATE: all copies except one were passed along to other people to be used like a chain letter.)
We congratulated Bertram and his crew earlier for the accomplishment that “Life Running Out of Control” represents. It is easy enough to say “bravo! bravo!” to Bertram now, for his success in court against Monsanto, and I DO give him a warm embrace and a standing ovation! – it is just as important to remember the costs. I shudder at the cost and the determination it takes to make the documentary. The documentary is for the public good – information we need. The success of one documentary, Blue Eyes Brown Eyes, covers past costs and allowed Bertram to continue his work. I get angry that Monsanto can de-rail and add significant costs to this new production by taking the filmmaker to court. Lawyer costs, personal time away from productive work, the tension of the legal battle, uncertainty as to outcome – Monsanto piles this on top.
Bertram’s success in court is another victory – another wearing away of Monsanto. That win is for all of us. Thank-you to him for fighting it. We are indeed warriors around the world! Somehow it makes me feel kind of special that I have the good fortune to be able to join hands with all of you.
When you see the awards that “LIFE RUNNING OUT OF CONTROL” garners – “List of Festivals and Awards” you will be as happy as I am. A further contribution we all can make is to help ensure that people see the documentary.