(Natural News) The integrity of science is founded upon the ability of researchers to freely ask questions without fear of retribution. But does this freedom actually exist?
Not for those who challenge powerful industries like biotechnology and genetic engineering, warns the award-winning documentaryScientists Under Attack: Genetic Engineering in the Magnetic Field of Money, by German director Bertram Verhaag.
“One question means one career,” says UC Berkeley Professor Ignacio Chapela, one of the scientists featured in the film. “You ask one question, you get the answer and you might or might not be able to publish it; but that is the end of your career.”
The lie of safe GMOs
The other scientist featured in the film is Dr. Arpad Pustazi, a world expert on the plant defensive chemicals known as lectins. In 1998, Pustazi did a television interview in which he spoke of forthcoming research showing that rats fed potatoes genetically modified (GM) with a lectin from snowdrops grew poorly and had immune dysfunction compared with rats fed unmodified potatoes. (RELATED: Follow more news about GMOs at GMO.news)
According to some commentators, the controversy that erupted played a key role in turning British public opinion against GM foods. It also destroyed Pustazi’s career.
Pustazi noted that the results of his research could not be explained by the lectins themselves, which showed no ill effects in rats even at very high doses. He suggested that the genetic modification had caused some other change in the potatoes, perhaps reducing their nutritive value.
The biotech industry went on the attack. Newspaper articles published a false claim that the potatoes had been modified from a poisonous jack bean — a claim that GM scientists use to discredit the research to this day. This lie was later repeated in a press release by the Rowett Research Institute, Pustazi’s employer.
The institute fired Pustazi, seized his research, and banned him from speaking publicly. The Royal Society conducted an “analysis” of raw data, not intended for publication, and declared it invalid.
The study was later published using only data collected by co-researcher Stanley Ewen, who did not work for the Rowett. Because of the controversy, the paper received three times the normal number of peer reviewers. It was approved, and published in the prestigious journal The Lancet.
But Pustazi’s career in science was over. “I would have characterized [his treatment] as disgraceful,” Ewen said. “I don’t see how any reputable scientist … could be treated in this way.” (Click to Article)