Food Evolution (2016) Movie Script

The survival of our species
has always depended on advances
in food and agriculture.
There are 7.3 billion
people on the planet.
The world's population is expected
to top 9 billion in 2050.
Climate change is gonna
scramble this whole
"How are we gonna feed
the world?" debate.
This is all about companies
controlling our future.
So amongst all this
conflict and confusion,
how do we make the
most informed decisions
about how we feed ourselves?
We are at a pivotal time in
the history of this island.
I have a bill before the council
that would restrict the use of GMOs.
The point is that we have
an opportunity to act.
To do something. We would
make history on this island.
Let's make this island a model
for the rest of the world.
Thank you.
I am concerned about
some of the health issues
related to GMOs on a
number of different levels.
My approach was, "Hey.
"We're gonna close the door on this island.
"You don't come here
until we have more
information of what is safe."
There's a lot going
on on this island.
This is ground zero for the entire world
in terms of experimentation
of GMOs and seed production.
This is a really rare opportunity
to get shots of people spraying.
We, as a society, do
so many stupid things,
and I feel like the GMO
is a thoughtless invasive species
that is being brought in here.
If they're safe,
great. Bring your jobs.
You know, the more the merrier.
If you're helping the island,
if you're really feeding people,
then you're more than
welcome. They're not farmers.
They're mad scientists.
With this conflict over
genetically modified organisms,
Hawaii has become
ground zero of a battle
for how to feed the
world sustainably.
A long day of testimony on
two proposed laws prohibiting
genetically modified
organisms on Hawaii Island.
Before voting, the
Hawaii county council
tried to get answers
about any safety concerns
related to GMOs.
Okay. I'm calling this
meeting back to order.
Aloha, Mr. Smith.
- Or, is it Dr. Smith?
- Aloha.
No, Jeffery's fine.
Have you ever heard of the rainbow papaya?
Oh, yes. I am very aware
that eating papaya that's
genetically engineered might
cause you to get more colds,
more susceptibility
to hepatitis or HIV.
And again, these are
completely backed
with peer-reviewed,
published studies.
We've actually put the
population at risk.
Here in Hilo
Most of this testimony is very emotional.
Everybody is saying that GMOs
are dangerous, but they're not.
There's not a single credible study.
It's caused by people
who are intentionally
making other people scared.
For the people who make
their living growing GMOs,
you know the Hawaiian...
everybody here is very giving,
and they would probably bend over backwards
to help you burn those papayas
and grow something decent.
The face of this issue is
not the papaya. You know.
The face of this issue is these
huge multinational companies.
That's what you guys are dealing with.
One of the criticisms that
I receive: "Okay, Margaret,
"this is... you're anti-progress.
You are anti-science."
What, I say to that is,
you know, who's really being unscientific?
A study by French molecular
biologist Gilles-Eric Sralini
provides solid evidence
showing rats fed GMOs
sprayed with glyphosate,
the toxic Roundup herbicide,
developed serious tumors
that took over their bodies.
The biggest risk associated with today's
genetically engineered crops,
these so-called
"Roundup Ready" crops,
is this significant
increase in pesticide use.
There's remarkable
correlations between the use
of glyphosate on GMOs
and the rates of autism in America.
Also of obesity, and
diabetes, and Alzheimer's.
All of these things correlate
very, very strongly.
So I think, eventually,
the only solution that's
actually going to work in the
long run is to go organic.
Thank you.
How many scientists are
here in the audience?
Please raise your hand.
With degrees.
I just want facts.
True facts. Without the fear.
Without anything else.
Facts. And we can make the best decision
when we have facts.
I yield.
I'm Dennis Gonsalves,
who actually very proudly
developed the rainbow papaya.
If you say you don't want to use GMOs
because you don't believe
in manipulating plants
the way the process does,
I respect your belief.
But now, if you say,
"GMOs are not safe,"
I would say, "Now, show me the data."
There's absolutely no
proof to the health hazard.
Absolutely no proof.
Talk is very cheap,
but we did the research.
And I stand by it.
- Thank you. We're...
- Boo!
I was a former biology major,
so I have some expertise in this area.
There is no middle ground.
You're either gonna be GMO allowing...
GMO... or you're gonna be organic
and not allow GMO.
They cannot coexist.
Thank you very much. Then, Madame Clerk,
on motion to approve Bill 113,
Draft 3, at second and final reading.
- Aye.
- No.
- Aye.
- Aye.
- Aye.
- No.
- Aye.
- Aye.
You have six ayes.
- Thank you.
- Bill 113 is adopted.
Motion to adjourn.
You know, I said,
"You're not gonna get away
with it if I can help it."
And we stopped it.
Hawaii's ban on genetically
modified organisms
and the frightening evidence
presented during testimony
made headlines around the world.
It was also hailed as a rallying cry
by the global leaders in
the movement against GMOs.
I think your island is
truth speaking to the world
that GMOs are an extension of pesticides,
not a substitute and alternative to it.
So don't tell me Monsanto can't be beaten.
They've been beat over
and over and over again.
And we can do it again.
Organic isn't the ceiling.
Organic's the floor.
And above that, we build
this new house of food.
This is actually a movement
which is spreading across the country.
Speaking to you all the
way from Moscow, Margaret.
Why this ban?
We want to protect
the future generations
from the contamination.
Do not want any more GMO
species on this island. Period.
You could get your kids sick!
But what if, while trying
to do the right thing,
the council got it wrong?
It's very frustrating to see
people who don't even know
what this breeding method is making choices
to avoid it based on information
that's not supported by
the scientific literature.
You might think the three
most terrifying letters
in the English language are GMO.
So I wondered how many people
really know what they are.
What does GMO stand for?
G... GM... I don't know.
Aw, man.
It... it's a genetically modif... modi...
I don't know. What is it?
I know it's bad, but,
to be completely honest
with you, I have no idea.
A GMO is really an undefined term.
It's a genetically
modified organism,
and I might argue that a
Chihuahua and a Great Dane
are a genetically modified relative
to their ancestor, the wolf.
A GMO is an organism that's
had its genetic makeup altered
by the insertion of DNA
that's from outside of
its normal genetic makeup.
So what does that really mean?
At its most basic,
genetic engineering,
or, as some say, GE, is
a modern form of breeding
which farmers have done for
thousands of years to select
for the most desirable
traits and provide food
for a growing population.
In fact, it's hard to call
any of our food "natural."
Conventional, as well
as organic, crops
have all been genetically modified
through selective breeding.
The goal of genetic engineering
is to add useful traits into food.
Traits that currently
help with weed, insect,
and disease control in staple crops
that are in billions of
meals consumed every day.
In fact, genetic engineering
has been part of our lives
for longer than most are aware.
Probably the most
familiar is insulin.
Genetically engineered insulin.
It's been very important for patients
suffering from diabetes.
Biotechnology is kind of used
in almost all cheesemaking now.
So if you're eating cheese,
you're eating a product of biotechnology.
Scientists are also working
to genetically engineer seeds
that aid humanitarian causes,
such as vitamin-enrichment
in crops like golden rice.
Golden rice is rice engineered
to have high levels
of beta carotene,
which gets turned into vitamin A.
And it's been proposed many years ago
as a solution for vitamin A deficiency
in the developing world.
In addition to helping
millions of children
stave off potentially
fatal vitamin deficiencies,
scientists are also developing crops
with a tolerance for drought,
such as rice, corn, and wheat,
which could prove essential
in the face of climate change.
And disease resistance,
to save crops like
the Hawaiian papaya
from being completely wiped out.
In fact, the farmers who
grow this rainbow papaya
convinced the Hawaii council
to amend their ban on GMOs.
Papaya industry farmers
flooded the council chamber...
To insinuate GMO is somehow
unhealthy is just not true.
I need your help.
Those of us who live
on the Big Island
should be well aware
that agricultural biotechnology
has saved the papaya
industry on this island.
It's been reported
that Councilwoman Wille
plans to amend the bill further.
And that approach is the way I've done it.
Which is, basically, to grandfather in,
number one, the papaya as an industry.
It's impractical to just
say no at this point.
If there are such horrible
health issues related to GMOs,
why even exempt the rainbow papaya?
Why not try to get it off your island?
Like, well, you must
have thought about that?
Okay, I did, and there was
a lot of criticism of me
and my final bill.
We... if we as a body pass this,
it shows that we think
that all GMOs are wrong.
Except this, this, this, this, this.
Are you worried that rainbow papaya
could cause somebody to have...
I don't know. You know. I have no idea.
This exempts everyone.
However, we think it's wrong.
What's the number one, like, problem...
You know what? You keep focusing on papaya,
and I exempted... you know?
I exempted it. So it's
like you're home free.
So I don't...
At the same time, I wanted
to get a bill passed.
It's done!
While the evidence presented
before the council seemed strong
and scary enough to ban all GMOs,
they exempted the rainbow papaya,
a genetically engineered fix
that helped this cherished crop
come back from the dead
only a short time ago.
Twenty years ago,
the Big Island papaya
industry had been thriving.
Growers were shipping 60 million
pounds of papayas a year.
But then insects began spreading
a devastating virus called ringspot
to nearly every papaya
tree on the island.
In about three years,
the trees were dead,
the industry literally wiped out.
Nothing stopped the spread.
Not physical barriers.
Not pesticides.
No methods, conventional nor
organic, could halt the virus.
As a scientist, when
nothing seems to be working,
you have to think of
alternative solutions.
And I had this idea.
The idea of vaccinating a plant
through genetic engineering.
What we did is, we
took the hypothesis.
We isolated a gene
from the pathogen.
We cloned the gene using
recombinant DNA technology.
We used a gene gun
to introduce our clone genes
into the cells of the papaya.
And it doesn't work the
first two or three times,
so you have to repeat
these experiments.
And it took us seven
years of research.
We continue until we're satisfied
that we have the correct sequence.
Now, this is the scientific method,
and you have to verify your results.
A few years later, our
results were dramatic.
The non-genetically engineered
papaya is not growing;
the genetically engineered
papaya is growing.
So we concluded that this
genetically engineered papaya
that we had was resistant.
We released seeds to the growers for free.
Essentially, we saved the papaya industry.
That's it.
Today, the industry is thriving,
exporting rainbow papaya to
countries all over the world.
But as more and more people
enjoyed this genetically
engineered fruit,
a vocal movement began to rise up
against the very
process that saved it.
Here they come. Genetically
engineered tomatoes.
We're creating a whole new species,
one that's never existed on Earth before.
So some would say,
"You've created a monster.
A Frankenfood!"
These foods can create new allergies.
They can make a nontoxic food toxic.
They can lower immune response.
They do lower nutrition.
The gap between the
public and science
on the safety of GMOs
is the largest gap
of any politicized scientific topic.
I have always been careful not to say,
"This is dangerous food."
And I don't believe the
fear mongering has helped.
Okay, good. So that's a good control.
I think it's a really important
concept of scientific consensus.
So you never trust one
scientist or one opinion.
You look at the consensus of experts
in the field over 20, 30 years.
After 30 years of
testing every GMO product
currently on the market
and based on the results of
nearly 2,000 experiments,
the foremost scientific institutions
in the United States
and around the world have concluded,
"All criticisms against
GMOs can be largely rejected
on strictly scientific criteria."
I don't think that
genetically modified organisms
are dangerous to consume.
We don't have any evidence
that the products that
are on the market now
have caused particular harm.
No adverse health effects
attributed to genetic engineering
have been documented in
the human population.
I looked closely at health,
and then I went into environmental effects.
And I just kind of ran out of
things to... to worry about.
"The science is quite clear:
crop improvement by the modern
molecular techniques of
biotechnology is safe."
While each new product should
continue to be assessed
on a case-by-case
scientific consensus tells us
the current GMOs on the
market are safe to eat
and safe for the environment.
There's absolutely no
proof to health hazard.
We did the research,
and I stand by it.
- Boo!
- We're g...
We ought to congratulate Margaret, really.
We were absolutely outmaneuvered.
Because all the time was
given to Jeffery Smith,
and he ranted and raved.
Eating papaya that's
genetically engineered might
cause you to get more colds,
more... more susceptibility
to hepatitis or HIV.
What Jeffery Smith just said
was convincing, if it was true.
- Yeah.
- But he's lying
to scare people.
Jeffery Smith is a very
innocent-looking person,
and he can say things,
wild and crazy things that
are astounding to hear,
with a very straight face.
We now know that GMOs, when
consumed by human beings,
might switch on or
shut off our genes.
It's a theoretical possibility
that has never been evaluated.
Things like that. So that's Jeffery Smith.
And I do know he has
a very wide audience.
Do you consider yourself a scientist?
I'm not a scientist.
Do you... are you a doctor?
I'm not a doctor.
- Aloha, Mr. Smith.
- Aloha.
- Is it Dr. Smith?
- No, Jeffery's fine.
People refer to me as "doctor" all the time
and I... because they get it wrong.
I don't call... I don't
call myself a doctor.
I don't call myself a scientist.
And I use my non-scientist...
it's to an advantage,
because I get to ask
a lot of dumb questions
and hear more and more
people's assumptions.
And then I can record them.
They were very smart,
and they were clever
about misinforming people.
There's remarkable correlations
between the use of GMO
and the rates of autism in America.
She showed one slide that,
over the past twenty years
or something, the incidents
of autism in the United States,
and how that went up,
up, up, up, up, up, up.
And then she superimposed
on that the use of Roundup.
And then in a statement
how it was the...
almost exactly a perfect match,
and she said, out loud, that
"I have never seen a better correlation."
Remarkable... I have never
seen such a good correlation
coefficient as you see
between those two things.
So I think the only
solution is to go organic.
And if you look at
consumption of organic food,
even a better match.
So there's autism prevalence
in the United States,
and organic food sales.
So organic foods, then, cause autism.
Must cause autism.
It became really clear
that... that Brenda Ford
and Margaret Wille were not
interested in gathering facts.
- Yeah.
- They're interested in getting
their fellow county council people scared.
Bill 113 is adopted.
The general nature of these people,
they probably all vote Democrat, like me.
They're kind of left-leaning, like me.
They probably think
global warming is a problem
we should take care of, like me.
They probably agree with me on most things.
And that is another reason
why this battle over GMOs
is so complicated and confusing.
Both sides seem to be fighting
for the same, worthwhile goals:
safe, abundant,
nutritious food for all...
Three generations against GMOs.
- Excellent.
- Thank you.
Fewer toxic chemicals
used around the world,
and a more sustainable food system.
These are the victors.
In a hundred years, when
they look back and say,
"How did we save the planet?"
There you go.
But there are
real-world consequences
to acting against
scientific consensus
that can be felt far beyond
the shores of Hawaii.
Now a Hawaiian island has
passed a law banning companies
which produce
genetically modified food
from operating on its territory.
Marin County, in California.
A GMO ban was put on
a ballot and passed.
I'm not here as an expert,
and we all have the right,
as Americans, to know
what's in our food.
Vermont passed a bill mandating
genetically modified
foods must be labeled.
We don't want your GMOs!
Scotland is to ban
genetically modified crops.
I have come to the conclusion
that there is a justifiable
reason to believe
that this genetically
modified maize presents
a danger to the environment.
Growing genetically modified food
is banned across the EU.
Today, 150,000 farmers in India
have committed suicide in areas
where they have to buy
the seed from Monsanto.
A devastating drought
hit southern Africa.
The American government
sent a shipment of food aid
containing GM corn,
and Zambia refused it.
Available data shows that
GMO foods can cause harm.
Making reference to
the Sralini report.
The government has decided
that all GMO food imports
are completely banned.
Uganda doesn't need the GMOs.
The fears and decisions
about GMOs in Hawaii reach
all the way to Uganda
in east Africa,
where bananas, similar
to the Hawaiian papaya,
are threatened to be wiped
out by a terrible disease.
Most bananas in this
region are now faced
with the worst bacterial
disease so far,
known as Banana Xanthomonas Wilt.
The disease has had
a devastating impact
on banana cultivation,
forcing some farmers
to abandon their crop.
Currently, nearly half of
all banana plants in Uganda
have been wiped out by banana wilt,
threatening the food security
of 14 million Ugandans,
more than a third of the population.
My name is Emma Naluyima Mugerwa.
I practice integrated
organic farming.
I also teach farmers
how to do the same.
Right now, banana wilt
is not affecting me,
but it has affected many people.
Banana bacteria can spread from
one farm to another at any time.
That's why I teach these farmers.
My idea... you have to guard against it.
Don't let people come into your garden.
Don't share tools.
Like, you see that is a tool rack.
All our tools will be used in this garden.
We never use them anywhere else.
If you must,
you disinfect.
All these are preventive measure.
They're not really curative measures.
She could not get food for
herself or for her family,
so she's devastated.
Once someone is hit, you
have to just cut down, burn,
and wait for maybe
six months to a year
for it to get out of the garden.
I would call it the
Ebola of the banana.
It comes and wipes away
the whole plantation.
To fight the devastation
of banana wilt,
scientists in Uganda
and Kenya are working
on a genetically
engineered fix similar
to what was done in
Hawaii with papaya.
Except their work is
done behind a locked gate
and is currently prohibited
from being released to the public.
Hi. I'm Leena Tripathi.
I'm leading the transgenic
research in IITA,
and my focus is on disease
and pest resistance.
So we find out that there are
some resistant genes in sweet pepper.
These are the genes that we are using
to transfer resistance
from sweet pepper to banana.
This message is brought to
you by Action Aid Uganda.
Did you know that genetically
modified organisms
pose health risks such as cancer,
infertility, et
cetera? The national...
I read about rats getting
cancer due to GMOs.
Definitely did scare me.
Even in Africa, fewer
GMOs is being fueled
by a discredited study
on tumor prone rats.
Here's a picture of
some of these rats.
So, Jeffery, why... you know,
how can it be this
information is being ignored?
They've got bad science
down to a science.
How many people have seen
the pictures of the rats?
That's not enough. You've
got to see these tumors.
A study by Gilles-Eric Sralini
showing rats fed GMOs...
This had enormous effects on people.
This one image was really responsible
for the GM import ban here in Kenya.
Making reference to the Sralini report.
The Sralini... infamous Sralini study.
So this is a study where a scientist says,
"I have rats that have cancer."
Yeah, he had a press
conference, but he demanded
that no scientists be there
to question his results.
If you look closely at
the study, Sralini
used a strain of rats
that are prone to develop tumors
no matter what they eat.
The conclusions that were drawn
could not be warranted from
the data that was obtained.
From everything I've read,
there are serious issues
with the Sralini study.
I've talked to people I respect
who look at the science and say,
"Statistically this... this
actually doesn't hold up."
And the paper was retracted.
Every scientist around the world
who looked at it said
the data was inadequate.
Even though Sralini's
paper was retracted,
the effect of publishing
that original paper still lingers
and lingers and lingers.
And it's gonna take a
long time to go away.
It's much easier to sell
fear than it is science.
And I think we need
to talk about science
and discuss these
things in the open.
- Hi.
- Hi. I'm Allison.
I'm a professor at University
of California in Davis.
- Oh.
- Oh, good.
Don't you think putting all
these chemicals in our food
and our animals isn't dangerous?
Well, I think that... I mean,
if... this particular sign,
I think, is referring to
the Sralini rat study,
I'm guessing.
And it's been retracted from
the scientific literature.
This topic of GMOs is a bit
like playing Whack-a-Mole.
And so there's all these
different issues that pop up.
That over 250,000 Indian farmers,
in the last ten years or
so, have committed suicides.
And one of the issues
that pops up quite a lot
is the farmer suicides in India.
So the... the farmer suicides...
I mean, I know I've looked
at the scientific literature on that.
And there are... there are reports
that show that there has been
no increase in farmer suicides.
When you actually look
at the data around that,
the rate of suicide
before the introduction of GM crops
and after hasn't changed.
It's a matter of debt, and
it's not actually associated
with the use of GM technology.
It's really confusing
causation and correlation.
Well, I just... I was wondering
if there's any application of GMOs
that you would be supportive of.
So for example, if...
if a developing country
developed its own insect-resistant,
or... or disease-resistant
cassava, for example.
Developed by the
researchers in that country,
not associated with
Monsanto or any company,
and gave that to the people to use,
would you... would you be
supportive of that, conceptually?
I definitely... I definitely
will look at all that,
and I appreciate your...
your feedback on this.
Well, and... and I'm happy to talk to you.
And I guess, what frustrates me is,
I think this technology has potential,
and yet it gets kind of mixed
up with a lot of other concerns
about multinational control.
Maybe it's not an "and/or."
I agree. Can we agree on that?
All right. Okay. Here's my card.
It was nice talking with you ladies.
Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
- Okay.
- Thanks, Allison.
- Bye-bye.
- Bye-bye.
I wish that we could
have a discussion
about what it really is
that concerns people,
rather than trying to scare
the bejesus out of people.
The protests are spreading.
I hate the British government.
I hate the American government.
This is about money.
This is about power.
- Corporate greed.
- Corruption. Money in politics.
All they create is
money for themselves.
From oil companies
denying climate change...
tobacco scientists saying
cigarettes are safe,
to the pharmaceutical industry
sometimes overcharging us
for drugs we don't need,
corporate greed and bias have
broken the public's trust.
People won't take what
scientists say on trust,
what governments say on trust.
We all think that there's some
kind of corporate influence;
that the Monsantos are the ones
who are really running the show.
And there's good reasons
why people don't trust
corporations to run things.
Monsanto is the devil
Pretends he's a scientist
Monsanto's the devil!
The past we need
for this predator
Evolution with a kiss
Monsanto is the devil
And the devil must be slain
Devil Monsanto, listen up
Yeah, hey!
Monsanto is one of the most
hated companies in the world.
How did that happen?
In their early history
as a chemical company,
they manufactured several products
that turned out to
have unintended health
and environmental consequences.
To combat malaria-transmitting
mosquitoes during World War II,
Monsanto and other
companies manufactured DDT,
which helped save millions of lives.
But as environmental
author Rachel Carson
pointed out in her landmark
book Silent Spring,
there were hidden
dangers with the toxicity
and overuse of DD and other chemicals.
Monsanto was also
one of nine companies
commissioned by the U.S. Military
to make Agent Orange
to help clear away the jungle
during the Vietnam War.
But it contaminated soil and water
and was linked to a
variety of birth defects.
With the public rightly questioning
the overuse of toxic
chemicals in farming,
Monsanto looked towards
a new technology,
genetic engineering,
to help farmers in
the timeless struggle
against weeds and insects.
And to help recoup the
billions of dollars
spent developing this technology,
Monsanto focused on commodity crops,
patenting seeds for
corn, soy, and cotton.
While they helped
invent the technology,
they didn't invent patents.
Almost every agricultural advance,
in both conventional
and organic farming,
has a patent behind it.
The first GMO Monsanto
introduced was
to help farmers protect
their crops from insects
by using the naturally occurring
insecticide known as Bt.
Bt, Bacillus thuringiensis,
is a bacterial disease of caterpillars.
Organic farmers use that.
We use that.
By Monsanto engineering
the Bt into the seed,
the need for spraying
was greatly reduced.
Bt crops have reduced
insecticide use
tenfold in the United States
and have had huge impact
in developing countries.
The other GMO Monsanto introduced
helped farmers control weeds
by providing seeds tolerant
to their herbicide glyphosate,
also known as Roundup.
These seeds became known
as "Roundup Ready" seeds.
They could be sprayed with Roundup,
which would kill the weeds,
but not harm the crops.
Let me tell you how overjoyed we were
when Roundup Ready seeds became available.
It was a gift from God.
I mean, it was that big a deal.
Both Bt and Roundup Ready
GMOs became huge successes,
and are currently being used
by over 90% of corn, soy,
and cotton farmers
in the United States
and around the world.
And with this success, Monsanto made
and continues to make,
billions of dollars.
They came up with a trick,
and so now you can spray
as much herbicide
as you want on them.
Good for the company, they sell the seeds,
and they sell the herbicide.
These war criminals who
became poison criminals
and are now GMO criminals.
This brings us to one of the
major questions in this debate.
Have GMO technologies like Bt
and Roundup Ready
increased or decreased
the use of harmful pesticides?
Agricultural economist
Charles Benbrook
authored a landmark study
on the subject of GMO crops
and pesticide use.
This technology led farmers down a path
that now requires more pesticides,
by far, than what they did in 1996
when the technology was first adopted.
There's a lot of discussion about
whether the amount of herbicides
or pesticides have increased
with the advent of GM crops.
Some of the people... Dr. Benbrook would be
one example... would say,
"Well, pesticide use has gone up."
And then he gives you
their statistics for the use of Roundup.
The amount of pesticides
is sort of beside the point.
The question is, "Are
they more harmful?
Are they more dangerous?"
They have to point
out that glyphosate,
of course, has very,
very low toxicity.
Lower than caffeine or salt.
Ironically, because of the
more harmful herbicides
glyphosate replaced,
pounds up doesn't equal toxicity up.
I often tell people, the
people fierce in attacking GE,
I say, "You know if you won
and you succeed in banning this technology,
let's say you... you got your dream.
Where would we be?"
Well, we would be back to 1996.
This was not a golden age
in American agriculture.
The weeds are still gonna grow.
So you've got to do
something about the weeds.
We'd probably go back
to the more toxic ones
that were being used prior
to the introduction of
Roundup Ready crops.
And if you look to the details,
past page one of Benbrook's study,
even he acknowledges more
benefits than dangers
from these technologies.
In light of its generally
favorable environmental
and toxicological properties,
especially compared to
some of the herbicides
displaced by glyphosate,
the dramatic increase
in glyphosate use
has likely not markedly
increased human health risks.
So when all the data are considered,
GMO technologies like
Bt and Roundup Ready
have decreased the use
of harmful pesticides.
Simply put, their net impact
is better for the environment.
It's very difficult to
pay Monsanto a compliment.
It's like praising witchcraft.
People can't imagine
that that company could ever do anything
which would benefit the environment,
but that's what's happened.
A Dr. Oz Alert.
The new GMO pesticide arms race
doctors are warning against.
I'm very concerned that... that
I'm at the beginning
of a catastrophe.
So safety has to be sacrificed
in order to maximize profits.
But most of the public,
expecting to hate anything
coming from Monsanto,
championed Benbrook's study
as peer-reviewed,
scientific evidence
that GMOs cause harm.
And it was that perceived
umbilical connection
between the... the GMO
and the chemical, and the pesticide,
which, I think, has
stuck in people's heads.
Hell no, GMO.
While there are many
bundled concerns
about Monsanto as a company,
to be concerned about the safety
of their GMOs is to be misinformed.
Yes. Let's go ahead and sit
so we can get good seats.
The world that you live in
when you're a young
environmental activist
is a very black and white world.
You know, there's the
bad guys out there,
and the bad guys are
the corporations.
They're the police.
They're the state.
And there was no compromise.
You didn't talk to the corporations.
You stood your ground,
and you battled them.
Biotechnology is gonna
continue to be important.
I would be the first to tell you,
as... as, really the guy who
helped start the... the GMOs
and the biotechnology,
that it's an important tool.
It's not the only tool that will be key.
And as we launched
these technologies,
farmers around the world
were excited about the benefits
that these products provided.
Clearly, you know, looking
back, we should have also been
much more transparent
in enriching the public.
And you know that... you
know, as I look back,
I... I wish that was something
that we would have done earlier.
And now we know that
that was a mistake.
And in the meantime, I think
that that void of information
got filled by... by folks
who... who really don't
understand the technology
and had a very different message.
Good. You had a question over here. Yes.
Well, I wonder what Monsanto's doing now
that Roundup has been found
to be linked to birth defects,
fatal kidney disease epidemics,
non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, brain cancer.
How are you trying to
remedy this toxic landscape
that you've created? Thank you.
Okay. Thank you for your question.
None of the studies that
you quoted are accurate.
They're all pseudoscience, and I'd be happy
later to take you through each one
and explain to you the policies
and the... the misinformation.
They are not recognized by
any governing body or agency
as being valid studies.
And so the importance of
the conversation is this.
Everybody is entitled to their opinions
and to their emotions,
but in the end,
we have to be grounded in the real science.
Otherwise, we will be...
we will be aimless in our decision making.
And... and that's true whether
we're talking about vaccines,
whether we're talking about climate change,
or whether we're talking about GMOs.
So I just urge you to... to think
through to... to the real science.
Do you and your family eat the
crops grown by your company?
- Absolutely.
- Good. Okay.
- Yep.
- All right. Thanks.
All right. Thanks.
I think trashing crops
is effective in the sense
that it sends a huge
message to everybody.
Angry farmers destroyed
an experimental rice paddy
in the Philippines.
Greenpeace objects to all
genetically modified plants.
Some people would call it vandalism.
We call it decontamination,
because you are stopping
genetic pollution
spreading across the countryside.
Our intentions were honorable.
What we were trying to do was to build
a more sustainable farming system.
We were trying to eliminate
chemicals from our food supply.
We were trying to protect
the future of the planet
and the health of our children.
As an activist, you tend
to take these things
as a point of faith, so
it begs the question,
"How do you know that
GMOs are the enemy?"
What if we got it wrong?
What if eliminating GMOs was not
the way to achieve these ends.
Now, my lords,
ladies, and gentlemen.
Here and up front, I want to apologize
for having spent several
years ripping up GM crops.
And, that I thereby assisted in demonizing
an important technological option which can
and should be used to
benefit the environment.
As an environmentalist,
I could not have chosen a
more counterproductive path,
and I now regret it completely.
So what happened between 1995 and now
that made me not only change my mind,
but actually come here and stand
before you today and admit it?
Well, the answer is fairly simple.
I discovered science, and in the process,
I hope, I am becoming a
better environmentalist.
Before I changed my mind on
GMOs, I had spent ten years
developing a career as a science writer,
mostly on the issue of climate change.
Every book, every article,
everything I wrote,
I wanted to have peer-reviewed
scientific references.
So I knew that that was based
on the best scientific data available.
Whereas, on the GMO issue,
I was taking the opposite perspective.
I was arguing against the scientists
without any scientific data.
He says he's junked ideology
in favor of hard science.
Is it really as simple as that?
You know, your intellect,
presumably, hasn't changed very much,
and if you were so wrong, so incompetent,
so shallow in the past,
why would... should we believe
you're any different now?
Well, all the more reason for
me to change my mind in response
to changing facts as I saw it.
Science should be about
changing your conclusion
on the basis of objective evidence,
but understanding that is tough.
You know, that's not how we
humans are wired to think.
You know, we're wired to make
our minds up and that's it,
then we've made a decision.
And... and that's gonna be,
largely emotionally based.
But so thinking like a... learning
to think like a scientist
and learning to take positions
which are amenable to change
was the most difficult thing for me to do,
as an environmentalist.
When it comes to complex issues
that affect food and farming,
everyone struggles to
make the right decisions.
For some, their decisions come
from a scientific assessment
of risks and benefits.
I wanted to be an organic
farmer because, number one,
the produce is much more profitable,
and number two, it's
much more sustainable.
I'm proud to be an organic farmer.
Instead of using
chemical pesticides,
organic agriculture uses
integrated controls.
Organic farming was
developed around the world
for many reasons:
to curb the use of
synthetic chemicals,
help soil fertility,
and, ideally, improve the
overall sustainability
of our food production.
Although organic
agriculture is a good model,
there are aspects that prevent it
from becoming the sustainable agriculture.
The challenging part for organic
is to provide food on
a very large scale.
It's very difficult to do.
Organic farming has taught
all of us about so much
over the last... over recent decades,
but if this is an organic
planet we're going towards,
you would see all the
rainforests destroyed.
We'd have to double or even triple
the amount of land area
which has been cultivated
just to feed the current population,
let alone a population of 9 1/2 billion.
So it would be an ecological disaster.
And so we need to use
every kind of technology
and strategy related to
agriculture that we can.
And genetically engineered crops
have achieved some of those goals.
So the papaya ringspot
virus in Hawaii.
Organic practices just
weren't gonna control that.
Whether it's small farmers in Africa
or it's large farmers in the U.S.,
we need strategies to
solve both their problems.
Zen Honeycutt from Moms Across America.
I met the CEO of Monsanto, and I said,
"We have science that your
products harm our children.
"And just consider, if you're wrong,
"the repercussions to
your company are enormous
and the repercussions
to the world are huge."
And he said, "Well, if you're wrong,
you're scaring an awful lot of people."
And I said, "If I were wrong,
and I'm not, then the only repercussion
to the people is that
they're eating organic."
And there is nothing
wrong with organic food.
It is perfect the way it is.
Zen Honeycutt scares moms into believing
that they're harming their children
by feeding them GMOs.
We're gonna go and see
if we can have a little
conversation with Zen.
We think maybe it'd be a good idea
to talk to her in person.
You know, let her know that we're human,
and let her know that we
know that she's human too.
And, you know, maybe it
might improve dialogue.
It's not... it's not harmful.
A concerned mom named Zen Honeycutt
started Moms Across America.
So when did you first become
concerned that your kids
were being affected by these pesticides?
Well, Dr. Oz, for a long time,
I didn't know that pesticides
might be affecting my children.
In fact, they had rashes and
severe allergies for years.
So what tests did doctors do to identify
that there were pesticides
were involved with this process?
Well, my doctors told me
that they would not test for glyphosate
because there was no reason to.
But we finally found a
private lab that would,
and we had shockingly unacceptable results.
With no scientific oversight,
run through a mail order lab,
using random urine and
breast milk samples
sent in from website followers,
Moms Across America
posted their results.
Not in a peer-reviewed
scientific journal,
but on their own website.
A biologist trained in analyzing
breast milk was attacked online
when she tried to point out
the study's many failings.
I'm a human milk and
lactation nutritionist.
I was looking at milk composition.
What I think that they don't realize
is, I did not have
a dog in the fight.
The worst ones for me, being a mom,
are the ones that suggest that
somehow I could be bought
off when I'm killing babies.
You know. And how
can I sleep at night.
And that I have blood on my hands.
You're not kidding?
I think that there
are a lot of families
they want good information;
it's just that, from what I see now,
there's so much propaganda
out there it's hard to know
what's... what's
real and what isn't.
What... what do you think
drives Zen Honeycutt?
Or what's her motivation?
I... honestly, I think her
motivation is the same as ours.
I... I really think
she honestly thinks
what she's doing is
gonna save children,
but it is so not based in reality
that it's not... you know,
if anything, I think
she's doing a lot of harm.
So what happens a lot in
this particular discussion.
Groups that are opposed to
this technology kind of suggest
that this... GMOs cause cancer.
And, as a mother, it
just broke my heart.
That parent, now, is
wondering what they did wrong.
You know, every parent, you
know, wants to blame themselves
when something tragic
happens to their child.
And I think I can speak to that,
because I actually, myself,
had a stillborn child, my daughter.
When you're faced with
that kind of tragedy,
it's... it's very easy
to want to blame something for causing it.
You look at, you know, everything you ate,
and everything you did,
and what... "But how could I
have stopped that tragedy from happening?"
But, you know, as... as
time has gone through,
I've realized that, you know... it was...
it was an unfortunate
tragedy that had no cause.
There was no reason that she was stillborn.
And I'm very passionate about
trying to ensure that, you know,
we don't have parents blaming themselves,
or feeling guilty
because they're, you know,
feeding their kids GMOs.
It infuriates me when
these groups use tragedy
to advance their cause in the absence
of any scientific evidence.
I'm aware that when I
give a talk about GMOs,
that moms with kids
that have diseases or disorders,
they may be putting together
that they may have
actually hurt their child
based on what they ate.
Cancer, diabetes, obesity,
heart disease, Et Cetera.
So I carry a huge responsibility,
knowing that the truth
about GMOs can generate fear,
anger, and sadness.
There are lots of
people in our society
who will prey upon people.
And they appeal to their fears and worries,
and they give them
answers... absolute answers
to where, like so many things...
like most things in life,
there are no absolute answers.
I think, as a mother,
one of the big catalysts
is the messaging that's coming across is
that GMOs equal pesticides.
And people get that pesticides kill things.
And when mothers and...
and consumers understand,
they're like, "Whoa.
There's a really good
reason to eat organic."
Do you think some in the
organic, natural foods
industries use fear to sell products?
Well, you know...
Again, the... the organic industry is...
is got a lot of different players in it.
And, yeah, I think some...
particularly activists...
Jeffery Smith is an example
of a number of anti-GMO activists
that are very entrepreneurial.
Store. Books.
I wrote 'em and I made 'em.
The movie "Genetic Roulette"
has been the fastest conversion
tool we've ever found
to convert someone
to a non-GMO diet.
You know, I think people like
Jeffery Smith use... use fear,
and... and really go beyond science.
You can't trust the chemicals
and the food-like substances
that are being pumped into our food,
because there's only
one benefit to them.
It's to them and not us.
So who can you trust?
You can trust Mother Nature.
Okay. Food Babe.
"Thanks for stopping by the Food Babe shop.
Below are food items that
I enjoy on a daily basis."
Organic raw almond butter.
"This shop contains
affiliate links for products
the Food Babe has approved
and researched herself."
Hmm. "And Food Babe will
automatically receive
a small referral fee."
Frankly, I trust the social
media, like blogs like
you know, Vani Hari's or other
moms that even just do a post.
I trust what they say more
than most medical doctors,
more than the CDC,
more than the FDA, more than the USDA,
more than the EPA. That's real.
I don't need a scientific study for that.
I don't need a doctor to tell me that.
Okay, I can buy Restore for gut health.
"Restore has been tested for
"and shown to support resilience of cells
"to the most widely used herbicide
"in the world, glyphosate.
To put it simply, Restore works."
I'm deeply troubled by
the sort of erosion of...
of the integrity of science,
and the whole debate about
genetically engineered food;
the... the point, counterpoint,
he said, she said that... that's going on.
I don't think that the science supports
such a wide array of "opinions."
People may say, "Oh, you shouldn't trust
everything you read on Facebook,"
or whatever, but what other motivation
would that person have?
When a patient would come in to see me
and they'd... they'd say,
"Well, what do you think
I should do about this problem, Doc?"
I wouldn't tell them what I believe.
I'd tell them what we know that
has been shown to be helpful
and what has been shown to be harmful.
When you look at the science,
we know that it's important
to eat whole foods.
To eat lots of fruits and
vegetables and whole grains.
We don't know that you're
going to be healthier
if those products are organic.
So please buy fruits and
vegetables and whole grains,
and don't worry whether they're
organically produced or
not organically produced.
It's like the... the issue
of vaccinations, really.
You can try and have public
information campaigns,
but it's much easier to scare people
than it is to reassure them.
And the misinformation
originates in the rich world,
and it's damaging the
interests of the poor world.
We do everything similar
to what farmer does.
No fertilizer.
No pesticide. No insecticide.
See, the control plant has the disease,
and the control plant completely wilted.
But our transgenic plant
has... has no disease.
So actually, all of our
genetically modified plants,
all have the 100% resistance.
It was quite amazing to
see Leena's GMO plants
that were resistant to the
banana bacterial disease.
You can touch it.
Even the fruits, you can touch them.
I want to know that they actually...
GMOs are not bad like they used to say.
Even better.
So it does well.
I don't know why they don't consider.
Maybe we have to, like,
change their perception
for that, you know?
The government has to be
forced to put the law in place.
When I saw Frances' face,
she also could not believe
that there was an
answer to her problem.
And she was like, "Can you give
us these plants yesterday?"
But it was so sad.
She could not get the GMO plants.
That she had to wait
for another two, three,
four years for the
research to be approved.
This is as close to being a
scientist as I'll ever get.
All of you have put so much time,
effort... your life's
work, basically,
is this plant that people are
having these big debates about.
How frustrating is that, for you?
What I see is how far
we have come, you know?
It's like, we have, now a
solution for the farmers.
So, you know. That... that good enough
to motivate me to do something more,
to convince the people who are
negative about this technology.
Give them the scientific facts.
And... and I feel like
we can convince them.
I am not convinced that
you can convince them.
One of the things that has
been most difficult for me...
is understanding
how human beings make decisions.
We don't make decisions based on facts.
We make decisions based on our gut.
And there's... you know.
It's some combination of intuition
and emotion and affiliation.
I need to ask you,
when was the last time you
changed your mind?
Think about it.
In the last year, have
you changed your mind
about an issue of substance?
And they haven't done anything for Africa.
The... the lame shall not walk.
The blind shall not see.
The hungry shall not be fed.
Technology doesn't have
a moral valence, you know.
It's... it's how the technology is used.
Is the hammer used to... to pound in nails
and build a house for the poor,
or is it used to bash in
the head of your neighbor?
We are now struggling
within the conventional
system of producing food.
Climate change is a reality.
You know, I am awaiting another
GM seed for drought tolerance.
I'm waiting really impatiently,
because we are losing here.
This has been about ten days of drought,
and then a month of recovery.
Our engineered lines recovered,
as you see, much better,
while the background control
line, they did not recover.
They died.
Wow. They're incredible.
If we can reproduce this in the field,
it could have a huge,
huge effect for farmers.
Genetic engineered rice? Been stopped.
No commercialization.
It's gone.
Then we stopped genetically
engineered alfalfa.
We sued 'em and we beat 'em.
Those are gone. Not gonna happen.
Not gonna happen.
Americans, beware.
Please, be informed that
whenever you say no to GM technology,
you are suppressing Africa.
South Africa and the rest of the continent
is being left behind.
With the global divide over GMOs
getting more contentious every day,
the respected debate
series Intelligence Squared
invited top experts on both sides
for a civil discourse in
front of a live audience.
Okay, we're letting
everybody get settled in.
We have four debaters, two teams of two,
arguing it out over this motion:
Genetically Modified Food.
And is this a good thing,
this genetic engineering?
Is it a safe thing? Is it necessary?
Well, those questions sound
like the makings of a debate.
So let's have it.
Yes or no to this statement:
genetically modify food.
Chuck, you are at Washington State.
You are known for your research
on pesticide use, in particular.
You've debated with us before, actually.
You were a proponent of organic food,
and you won overwhelmingly.
So are you feeling lucky again tonight?
I am, John.
We've... we're well-prepared, Marty and I,
and since we have the facts
and science on our side,
I think we'll be fine.
Part of me was reticent to do it,
because, I thought it was a bit
a no-win scenario in the
middle of New York City.
And also, sitting
alongside Robb Fraley,
who, obviously, is with Monsanto,
and just... all of the baggage that comes
with that particular company.
Here to argue for the motion,
please welcome Robert Fraley.
He is executive vice president
and chief technology officer at Monsanto.
Ladies and gentlemen, Robert Fraley.
I'm hearing hissing.
I would appreciate the
audience silence the hisser.
I absolutely think that
trust is the central issue
when it comes to Americans'
relationship with food.
First of all, GMOs are not the holy grail.
What they are is an important tool.
They've enabled farmers to use safer
and more environmentally
friendly chemicals.
GMOs: are they perfect?
Absolutely not.
They need to be regulated.
They need to be managed wisely
like... like any technology.
I was there in the early days
when Monsanto came up with its products.
And compared to the
vision... the early vision,
it's a big disappointment.
GMO technology often gets conflated
with Monsanto and Big Ag.
But it's actually a breeding tool,
one that can be used for many purposes.
All of these GM applications
focus on controlling disease with genetics
rather than chemicals,
an objective that I would argue
is compatible with
agroecology, sustainability,
and feeding more people better
with less environmental impact.
Robb and Allison, if... if
all of what you said was true,
I would be over there
at your side of the table
going at it with...
with poor Marty all by herself.
Rest assured, there is no consensus
about the safety of GE foods.
At some point, you know,
consensus doesn't mean everybody agrees.
It doesn't mean that there's
a complete 100% alignment,
just like there isn't on global warming.
But the science speaks for itself here,
and... and the science has
reached a consensus on this.
We live in an age of
so much information.
The individual sees one
article say one thing,
and another article say the other thing,
and the individual can only
weight these the same way,
and that creates dissonance.
That creates a lot of confusion.
And dissonance and
confusion create distrust.
John asked about to...
to open up a discussion
of the environmental impacts.
When you spray one herbicide over
and over again on weeds,
they're going to develop resistance.
Okay. I'm... so I want to
take that to Robb Fraley.
You've all heard of antibiotic resistance.
It's a problem, right? You're aware of it.
So what should drug companies do?
Should they not develop new antibiotics
just because there's
become a resistance to...
to an antibiotic?
Absolutely not.
Roundup controls hundreds of weeds.
In this country, 12 of
them have become resistant.
It still controls hundreds of weeds.
It needs to be used effectively.
And, Chuck, you were one of
the first ones to point out
that we should actually use
combinations of herbicides,
and that's what growers are doing today,
and that's one of the
benefits of being smarter
and stewarding these products better.
Yes. That... that's true. I mean...
The challenge of feeding
the world's hungry people
is not one that is met
by production of any kind.
I mean, if you want to feed
hungry people around the world,
I can give you a list of ten things to do.
You can build roads. You
can raise their incomes.
You can change the role of women.
You can help people
make their own decisions
about what they want to
grow and help them grow it.
I... I absolutely agree.
It's a complicated question
that will take all of the tools we have.
- Robb...
- So I couldn't agree more.
One... one part of,
I think, of Margaret's argument
is that the focus on
genetically engineered crops
sort of sucks the oxygen out of the room.
I... I think the debate
around GMO crops sucks
all the air out of the room.
The GMO debate is not about
GMOs at all, at this point.
GMOs are a metaphor for our relationship
with food and our food system.
And here to give his closing statement
against this motion, Chuck Benbrook.
It's really turned into kind
of a arms race with weeds,
using herbicides as the sole hammer.
The 2014 USDA data shows pretty clearly
it's about 230 million pounds
of glyphosate was applied.
Even though it's generally regarded
as a relatively safe pesticide,
there's reason for serious worry here.
Sometimes the risks that concern people
and the risks that kill
people are entirely different.
For too long, the debate over the merits
of genetically modified food
has focused on unrealized
hypothetical risks
and has been conflated
with the use of pesticides.
It has not addressed how GM could help
with the very real risks
faced by hungry and malnourished.
There are costs associated
to excessive precaution.
Vote "yes" for GM food.
This is obviously a very,
very passionate debate.
If you side with this motion,
and with this team, push number one.
Against the motion and
this team, push number two.
Confirmation bias
is people's tendency
to only assimilate
information which confirms
what they already believe.
And everybody does it.
I mean, confirmation bias is
why right wingers watch Fox News
and left wingers read
"The Guardian" online.
It feels more comfortable
to read information
which tells you that you're right.
You know, confirmation bias
has a... has a function,
almost in terms of mental health.
Keeping you feeling sane,
and like you know... you know
how... you understand how the world works.
But confirmation bias
is also very dangerous,
because it means that we
don't listen to evidence
which challenges our beliefs.
Let's look at the first vote.
In the first vote on the motion
"Genetically Modified Food,"
32% agreed, 30% were against,
38% were undecided.
Those are the first results.
Remember, again, the team
whose numbers change the most
between first and second
will be declared our winner.
Let's look at the second vote.
The team arguing for the motion,
their second vote was 60%.
They went from 32% to 60%.
They picked up 28 percentage points.
That is the number to beat.
But let's look at the
team against the motion.
Their first vote was 30%.
Second vote, only 31%. Only a 1% move.
That means the team arguing for the motion
"Genetically Modified Food"
has carried this debate.
Our congratulations to
them, and thank you from me,
John Donvan and Intelligence Squared U.S.
We'll see you next time.
Yeah, it's self-fulfilling. And money.
Money is behind the
whole thing with Monsanto.
And Syngenta, Dow, DuPont.
These are all, all...
I don't know. He's just...
he's so charismatic.
He was just so good.
Well, he was good.
You convinced my husband and I.
Good job. Well, thank you for coming.
What did you think of it?
It's the first time I've
seen science win a debate.
And I was also struck by just how
weak the arguments are for the antis.
There was nothing even remotely persuasive.
"The thing we've been trying to stop
for 15 years hasn't worked yet."
Now, what kind of argument is that?
There's really no food that's 100% safe,
and even the turkey dinner you had
for Thanksgiving had some
risk associated with it.
And so you have to kind of
manage that risk. And so...
I'm wondering... I didn't
quite get your position.
Are you for herbicide tolerant crops?
Would you support them? Do
you think... if this debate
was just for or against,
not the other apps?
You know Humboldt County just banned
- genetically modified crops.
- Yes.
So I was talking to a farmer up there
who grows Roundup Ready corn.
And I said to him, "What
are you going to do,
now that it's been banned?"
And he said, well, "I'll
obey the... the ban.
"I'll grow conventional corn.
And I'll go back to using
a more toxic herbicide."
That is the consequence of that ban.
For... there are good applications.
I'm not debating you on this.
There may be some good ones, fine.
But that app is a very bad app.
Support the good apps,
and say, "You know, guys?
This is not an application you should use."
- Hi.
- Hi.
They haven't done
anything for Africa.
The lame shall not walk.
The blind shall not see.
The hungry shall not be fed.
When Andrew Kimbrell acknowledged
that there were good apps for GMOs,
either that was a slip of the tongue,
or that was an incredibly
meaningful admission.
Because I've never heard
anyone of his stature
in the anti-GMO movement
admit that this technology
can ever have a beneficial purpose.
Well, let me ask you this.
Is it true or false
that this technology has
increased the use of pesticides?
It has decreased the use of pesticides.
That's the... that's
where you guys don't agree.
That's what the science says.
So that's something I want to look into.
So that right there,
I can investigate that.
And papaya doesn't use anything.
The papaya is pretty impressive.
So, everybody, for you recording,
this is something I'm gonna look into.
Does it increase or decrease
the use of pesticides?
Don't forget, look at
the lens not at yourself.
Thanks, Bill. I appreciate it.
- Yes, yes, yes.
- Pleasure to meet you.
- Yes.
- Selfie with the Science Guy!
So excited!
My kids love him, and so...
well, 'cause we're all kind
of science nerds, right?
So that's gonna really amplify
my status at home, I think,
and maybe make them understand
what I was doing here, so...
Thanks so much for your support, dude.
Really, really appreciate it.
I'm so excited about
getting heavily into meat.
Because I've been kind of captured
by GMO stuff for it seems like forever.
Well, we're happy we could throw you
something new to work on.
Yep. Yep.
While Benbrook's side
lost this GMO debate,
his influence and his
story didn't end there.
I'm deeply troubled by
the sort of erosion of...
of the integrity of science
and the whole debate about
genetically engineered food.
One study coauthored by
Washington State University
researcher Charles Benbrook...
Over the years, Benbrook has
become the go-to scientist
for the anti-GMO movement.
The paper has been
downloaded over 224,000 times.
His work has been quoted, shared,
and retweeted around the world...
Bill 113 is adopted.
To help support
arguments and actions
against this technology...
Our major finding is that
while all milk is healthy,
organic milk is even healthier.
While also favoring organic
as the perfect alternative.
Vermont lawmakers have
passed a bill mandating
that genetically modified
foods must be labeled.
Oh, yeah.
Through a public records request,
"The New York Times" discovered
that Benbrook's studies
may not have been as
independent as he portrayed.
What I've seen is that
he is willing to actually
take funding to provide
particular outcomes.
And that's really the antithesis
of what a scientist
is prepared to do.
Scientists will usually...
if they're funded by industry,
it's... it's an unrestricted grant.
There's no outcomes expected.
There's certainly no
predetermined conclusions
as to what the study is going to say.
That's... that's not how science works,
because the data informs your opinion,
not who funded you.
Some of the important
funders would be Whole Foods,
Organic Valley, Stonyfield.
Do you think some in the organic
or natural foods industry
have used your work
to help them sell fear around GMOs?
I think, I mean, certainly, to some extent,
that that is how the work
that I did was utilized.
But the way I feel about it is,
why shouldn't the organic industry
have the same right as Monsanto
or Syngenta or ADM or Kraft Foods?
Don't you think every company
on all sides of this debate
will use whatever science
they think supports their public posture
and their messaging?
Of course they're gonna use it.
But are any of those
companies trying to convince me
that organic food will give my kids cancer?
No. I'm not saying that.
That's what I'm saying.
Many scientists and
science journalists
spoke out against the biased
and misleading information
in Benbrook's work.
The profit motive is
a double-edged sword.
It can lead to innovation
as well as temptation.
When you look at
the people out there
who are pushing against GMOs
and who are pushing for GMOs,
there are real
marketers on both sides.
And what's interesting to me
is that you can get past those people.
You know, there are scientists who,
their incentive is to be impartial
and to weigh the evidence
and to figure out real solutions
and not to push an agenda.
No GMOs! No GMOs! No GMOs!
After years of March
Against Monsanto
pushing false fears around GMOs,
a group of young scientists
launched a counterprotest:
March Against Myths.
Three, five, seven, nine!
GMOs are really fine!
Science is completely
counter to being an activist.
I mean, as an activist, you
want to get the megaphone,
and you want to say,
"These people are doing...
"you know, they're damaging the planet!
They're cutting down the trees! They're"...
You don't want to stand up
there with a megaphone and say,
"This is a very subtle issue,
there's lots of complications,
and we need more objective evidence!"
When did you ever hear, "What do we want?"
"We want peer-reviewed data
which objectively defines
the nature of the problem!"
"When do we want it?" "When do we want it?
"Well, at least three years hence,
when people have had the
time to examine the data!"
Heck no GMO!
Heck no GMO! Heck no GMO!
- What do you want?
- Safe technology!
- When do you want it?
- We already have it!
There's all of these myths
that are being promoted
by March Against Monsanto,
and what can we do about it?
They are good people.
They want the best for themselves.
They want the best for their children.
They want the best for the world.
They have good intentions,
but they don't have the facts.
If you turn in your protest gear,
we will buy you a beer!
I'm not fighting for GMOs.
I'm fighting for the ability
to use science to make the
best decisions that we can.
If you throw science out,
then... then there's nothing.
There's just kind of an amorphous blob
of competing worldviews.
Emma and her husband, Washington,
are expanding their
role as educators
by building a school to
teach all about food,
farming, and agriculture.
We visited a farmer whose farm was dying
because of banana wilt,
and she was actually dying with it.
They get a gene that is resistant
and put it in the matoke.
And the matoke was still matoke.
With no banana wilt?
With no banana wilt.
Does it make sense for that thing to wither
because you are so against it
but then at the end of the
day, we don't have food?
What... what does food make us?
If you don't have food,
then you are going to steal.
You are going to kill someone.
A lot of crime.
Or incorporate science.
So we ask you to tell your relatives,
your dads, your aunties,
maybe your brothers and
sisters in parliament,
"Let's grow food to feed
Africa and feed the world."
In view of our findings,
the task force recommended
that the ban on GM foods be lifted
on a case-by-case
Personally, I believe biotechnology
is the way forward
for this country and for the globe
in terms of food security
and the issues dealing with climate change.
Thank you.
Both Kenya and Uganda
are close to allowing
genetically engineered crops,
like the wilt-resistant banana,
on a case-by-case
But there are still many
people and organizations
successfully spreading fear
and misinformation
about this technology.
The Hawaii County Council's
ban on growing GMOs
was overturned by the state,
but, led by Andrew Kimbrell's
Center for Food Safety,
it is still being
contested in the courts.
You know, at its core,
science is an investigative journey,
no matter where it ends up.
There's a chapter in there
which I'm gonna revise.
I spent some time on it,
and I'm very, very excited.
- Wait, which chapter is this?
- Well, you can stay tuned.
But it's about
genetically modified food.
- Oh.
- I went to Monsanto,
and I spent a lot of time
with the scientists there.
And I have revised my outlook,
and I'm very excited
about telling the world.
When you're in love, you
want to tell the world!
Change your mind when the data shows you.
Bill, thank you so much
again for coming on the show.
Let's change the world! Let's do it.
GMOs in development
around the world include:
peanuts that are now allergy-free,
safe for all children to eat;
oranges that can resist
the invasive citrus
greening disease,
which has wiped out over
half of all orange trees
in the United States;
and mosquitoes that can help
stop the spread of malaria,
Dengue fever, and
even the Zika virus.
I don't think people understand
how much science is involved
in making good food available.
So while we may have
had a crisis of trust,
when we come to our next
evolutionary fork in the road,
how do we decide which way to go?
What kind of future will we have
if we turn our backs
on credible evidence,
sound science, and
repeatable studies?
What impact will that
have on ourselves,
our planet,
and our future?
A quote in "The New Yorker" said,
"Don't listen to Jeffrey Smith.
He's a ballroom dance teacher."
Actually, I'm a swing dancer, thank you.
Well, my wife always tells me
that I'm incredibly unpersuasive
because I'm always
punching people in the face
with how wrong they are and, you know,
how my facts are the right facts and so on.
And she keeps saying I used to do this
when I was on the anti side
of the argument as well,
so she said, "You're just
doing the same thing now.
"You're just telling everyone they're wrong
"and shouting in people's faces.
"You just changed your mind completely.
Why do you expect anyone to believe that?"
And she's probably got a point.
More than 100 Nobel laureates
have signed a letter
calling for Greenpeace
to end its campaign
against genetically
modified organisms.
Richard Roberts, the
campaign's organizer
and 1993 Nobel Prize recipient,
told the "Washington Post"
that the environmental group's
stance against GMOs is
damaging and anti-science.
- Uh...
- You know, the good thing
about science is that it's true
whether or not you believe in it.
You see, that's... I'm just saying.
Right now, we're being
replaced by social interaction.
Virtual reality
becomes sub-reality.
People make money off
of being good at life
in a virtual game.
I saw the tweet out
there that wanted to know
how much Monsanto paid you
for changing your mind.
Yes, well, I confess.
They... two things.
I ate in the cafeteria...
for free, as I understand it.
And you guys gave me a
ride from the airport.
- That's true.
- All right.
So... but other than that...
So we can put that myth behind us.
Yes. I paid my own way.
Oppression has been
forgotten. Religion is dead.
Everyone is logical,
but they don't know why.
Oh, man, the future.
You know, when people
talk about doom and gloom,
we're gonna have so many people
and we're gonna be falling off
the island... you know, our continents
'cause we'd have so many
people, that's baloney.
First of all, if we all had a party,
all of the people in the world had a party,
we would fit on the island of Hawaii.
All of the people in the world
right now if we had a party.
39 more U.S. presidents
until a woman
finally makes it into office,
not that it'll matter.
A year later, a revolution happens,
and the war for hunger
and poverty ends.
Some people believe
that an organic farmer
and a geneticist
represent polar opposites
of the agricultural spectrum.
But that's not true,
and we both have the same goal,
which is an ecologically based agriculture.
We met at another farm.
Eventually there was enough
going there to get married.
Oh, man, the future.
People create drugs to
trick the body into thinking
it's getting the nutrients
it needs to survive,
food no longer necessary.
Oh, man, the future.
On Capitol Hill Tuesday,
Dr. Oz was on the hot seat.
I actually do personally believe
in the items that I
talk about on the show.
I passionately study them.
I recognize that
oftentimes they don't have
the scientific muster
to present as fact.
But that's the whole point.
You're presenting it as a doctor.
Dr. Oz, for some reason,
he tells people what he believes,
whether or not it's based
upon any good science.
I don't understand how he really
can sleep at night doing this.
Oh, man, I died. Oh,
man, the world dies.
Oh, man, the future.
And as I say all this,
I piss off the Buddhist
on the corner of
Hollywood and Highland.
We are here to answer the
million-dollar question,
can we feed 9 billion people by 2050?
And I'll use President Obama's catchphrase:
yes, we can.
Yeah, look at this. Lookit.
Dr. Emma, look. Everybody's standing up.
The standing ovation
after the speech,
he told me even Bill Gates
sometimes could not get that,
so it was really nice.
It felt good.
All right, my man.