New pro-GMO, pro-nuke documentary on UK TV

By GM Watch

UPDATE: See Channel 4 accused of misleading contributors to green documentary. (Reproduced in full in comments section below.)

This latest programme, What the Green Movement Got Wrong, from Channel 4 (airing Nov. 4 9pm) follows a long line of anti-environmentalist documentaries commissioned by this broadcaster. They include The Great Global Warming Swindle, Against Nature, Modified Truth – The Rise and Fall of GM, and The Greenhouse Conspiracy.

The latest from Channel 4 is supposedly aboout “a group of environmentalists across the world” who “believe that, in order to save the planet, humanity must embrace the very science and technology they once so stridently opposed. In this film, these life-long diehard greens advocate radical solutions to climate change, which include GM crops and nuclear energy.”

We understand that the programme alleges that GM could save the world, and that the fact it hasn’t is a result of a western-led NGO movement that imposes its ideology on the global South. This has led to death and starvation across the world. So essentially the anti-GM movement is responsible for the hunger and deaths of millions.

So who are the “environmentalists across the world” who have performed a u-turn on nuclear power and GM crops? According to the Sunday Telegraph they’re Mark Lynas, Stewart Brand and Patrick Moore.

Patrick Moore was one of the founding members of Greenpeace, but after leaving the organisation back in the mid 1980s, Moore ventured unsuccessfully into the salmon farming business before making a living writing, speaking and campaigning on behalf of the logging, aquaculture, nuclear and GM industries. He’s been described as “a spin doctor for corporations engaged in environmental destruction.”

Stewart Brand was once the editor of the Whole Earth Catalog. Ever the technophile, even back in those days Brand was pushing the idea of space colonies, and he’s claimed that if he’d known about GMOs then, he’d have been more than in favour: “30 to 40 years ago I think I would have said to all the genetic engineering stuff – hot dog!”

These days he promotes multiple techno-fixes, including nuclear power and geoengineering. Brand also favours mass urbanization, glorifying the squalour of third-world squatter slums as the solution to poverty in the South.
He even seems comfortable with political dictatorship. Liberal democracy can not deliver the kind of future Brand considers necessary. He’s a little coy about what should replace it but as Toronto Star journalist Cathal Kelly notes in the article below, “I put it to Brand that he’s advocating some sort of environmental dictatorship. ‘China’s headed in that direction,’ he says approvingly.”

When it comes to scepticism about GM, Brand claims, “We’ve starved people, hindered science, hurt the natural environment and denied our own practitioners a crucial tool.” Brand by contrast, “gushes about the technology in a way that might raise a blush even in a spokesman for Monsanto,” according to the science editor of the Financial Times.

Read the full post at GM Watch

5 responses to “New pro-GMO, pro-nuke documentary on UK TV

  1. after the DC Rally yesterday, these people seem INSANE.

  2. Here’s a response to the docufilm by key people in the film:

    Channel 4 accused of misleading contributors to green documentary
    Leo Hickman
    The Guardian, 2 November 2010

    *Adam Werbach says he was not informed of the polemical nature of the programme, and that his opinions are not accurately represented

    Environmental activist Adam Werbach in Bernal Hill Park, San Francisco, California Environmental activist Adam Werbach in Bernal Hill Park, San Francisco, California. Photograph: John Lee/Corbis

    An environmental documentary due to be broadcast on Channel 4 on Thursday evening has come under attack from a leading American environmentalist who was interviewed for the programme, as well as a coalition of anti-GM campaigners based in the developing world.

    Adam Werbach, a California-based sustainability consultant and former president of the Sierra Club conservation group, told the Guardian that the makers of What the Green Movement Got Wrong did not inform him about the programme’s polemical nature when they first approached him to contribute. He says that the final version, which he has seen, does not accurately represent his opinions and that he wants his contribution edited out of the programme. He is now considering making a formal complaint to Ofcom, the UK’s media regulator, once the programme has aired.

    Greenpeace said it also had “major issues” with how the film was explained to potential contributors and considered it was “lied to” about the film’s focus when asked by the film-makers to provide archive footage of environmental protests from the 1960s. Channel 4 and the production company, Darlow Smithson, denied they had misled contributors.

    The documentary is described by Channel 4 as a film in which “life-long diehard greens advocate radical solutions to climate change, which include GM crops and nuclear energy”. Contributors such as Mark Lynas, author of Six Degrees, and Stewart Brand, author of The Whole Earth Catalog, are, say the channel, now part of a “a group of environmentalists across the world [who] believe that, in order to save the planet, humanity must embrace the very science and technology they once so stridently opposed … They argue that by clinging to an ideology formed more than 40 years ago, the traditional green lobby has failed in its aims and is ultimately harming its own environmental cause.”

    The 90-minute documentary will be followed by a live studio debate chaired by news presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy and will feature “leading policy makers, commentators, scientists, entrepreneurs and economists”. Guardian columnist George Monbiot is scheduled to be among the 12 panellists taking part in the debate.

    In a letter sent today to Channel 4’s head of news and current affairs, Dorothy Byrne, a coalition of anti-GM campaigners based in the developing world led by India’s Vandana Shiva accused the filmmakers of using only two “southern-based commentators”, both of whom are “funded by major GMO [genetically modified organisms] companies”.

    The letter states: “We are tired of the corporate campaigns which claim to speak for the global south and allege that western-based non-governmental organisations are imposing their beliefs about genetically modified food on our countries.”

    Adam Werbach said the film “misrepresents who is to blame for many of our social and environmental problems”. He added: “Blaming environmentalists for starvation and lack of energy [in developing nations] is like blaming weathermen for the weather.” More specifically, Werbach said Darlow Smithson did not “accurately share with me the editorial basis of the documentary when they asked me to contribute”.

    “They told me they were doing a documentary about the ideas of Stewart Brand, who is a friend of mine, and looking at other inspiring ideas and new ways to protect the planet,” he said. “They didn’t tell me that it was basically about nuclear reactors and genetically modified foods. They first referred to the film as the ‘Stewart Brand documentary’ and then they called it the ‘New Environmentalists’.””

    He added: “I don’t feel the film accurately represents my opinions, which leaves me uncomfortable. I’d rather not be part of it. Being critical of the environmental movement is important to make the environmental movement better. But to attack the environmental movement for thousands or millions of deaths in Africa is far beyond anything I believe. I’m upset that I was not told the proper title of this film. I would rather my contribution was edited out of the programme.”

    Werbach says there are “four or five, one or two-sentence quotes” from him in the final film, but that such editing has decontextualised his views: “For example, a lot of what I was talking about was the American environmental movement and in the interviews I had made it very clear that I was talking about the US but that things are different globally. But that was never made clear in the film.”

    “Nuclear power and GM foods are portrayed as the hallmark issues of ‘New Environmentalists’. But these have never been issues for me. The opening and closing packages of the film start with a description of these New Environmentalists who believe that the environmental movement has done damage by blocking GM foods and nuclear power. But it would be a real strain to look at my interview and believe that was my opinion..”

    Werbach said he now intends to study section seven of Ofcom’s broadcast code to see whether he has grounds for an official complaint. The section covers “fairness” and, in particular, when a “person is invited to make a contribution to a programme”. Section 7.3 states that a contributor “should normally, at an appropriate stage, be told the nature and purpose of the programme, what the programme is about and be given a clear explanation of why they were asked to contribute”.

    In 2008, Ofcom ruled that Channel 4 had been in breach of section seven of the code when it aired the highly controversial film The Great Global Warming Swindle during the previous year. In particular, Ofcom upheld a complaint made by Prof Carl Wunsch, an oceanographer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, that the programme-makers had failed to properly inform him that the programme was polemic.

    Doug Parr, Greenpeace’s chief scientist, said: “Like the film itself, the email we were sent by the producers was almost comically misleading. You would have thought Channel 4 would have learned its lesson after the previous controversies, but judging from this latest attempt to set us up, they haven’t.

    “We’ve now seen the documentary. It’s a slick, expensive piece of film-making, but gets basic stuff flat-out wrong and misrepresents the green movement from start to finish, such as claiming that we told Zambia to reject GM food aid when in reality we recommended that they accept it if that was the only option. After Against Nature [a 1997 documentary about environmentalism that was found by the Independent Television Commission to have misled interviewees about “the content and purpose of the programmes” and to have distorted their views “through selective editing”] and the Great Global Warming Swindle it’s a case of ‘here we go again'”

    A Channel 4 spokesperson said: “The green movement is not united by one orthodoxy – this is demonstrated by the range of views within the film. All the contributors were briefed extensively on the over-arching narrative of the film which is led by the views of our main interviewees Stewart Brand and Mark Lynas.”

    The spokesperson rejected the idea that Werbach had been deliberately misled over the nature of the film and said that the clips of his interview accurately represented his opinions. “The correspondence with Adam Werbach clearly and accurately describes the basis for the film as the eco-pragmatist thesis of environmentalist Stewart Brand.” She said that he had signed a contributor release for which described the film as examining “recent revisionist trends in thinking about some key environmental issues including climate change, nuclear power, genetically modified food and pollution.”

    “It was made clear that the different titles for the project at the outset were working titles. There was no intention to deceive him, the final title was only chosen and confirmed at the time of billing [two weeks ago].”

    Craig Bennett, director of policy and campaigns at Friends of the Earth, said: “We’re always up for having a debate – but we’ve seen this documentary, and it is a blatant piece of misinformation based largely on the views of paid lobbyists and journalists with books to sell.”

  3. This is a No-Brainer. Non-GMO corn is designed for yield, with no compromise for standability or drydown. Products are always carefully chosen to match trait rotation systems, IRM refuge areas, and premium markets. Thanks for your blog! Let the world know!

  4. GMO in my opinion, are not fit for consumption but considering the expantion of the world population we will be forced to consume them and after we will find out all their effects.

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