Life Running Out of Control (2004)
by Bertram Verhaag and Gabriele Krober
Thorough examination of the issues surrounding the genetic manipulation of plants, animals and human beings. Directed by Bertram Verhaag and produced by Michel Morales and Bertram Verhaag for DENKmal-Films and Haifisch Films, the film was "Meticulously researched, excellently photographed and multilayered documentary" according to the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital program. In the mid-1980s, scientists, with the help of biotechnology, thought they had found the key to mastering the planet, and especially its living organisms. Suddenly, everything seemed possible! Twenty years later the filmmakers embark on a global journey to explore the effects of the ongoing experiments in the genetic manipulation of plants, animals and human beings.
Some of the results have not been pretty:
* Due to a disastrous crop of genetically modified cotton many Indian farmers face ruin, and choose instead to sell one of their kidneys or commit suicide.
* In Canada genetically modified canola seeds blow onto the fields of neighboring organic farms, thus making organic certification of those farmers' crops impossible.
* The Icelandic parliament sells the entire gene pool of its population to a private company which intends to turn over the data at a profit to the pharmaceutical industry and insurance companies.
* The Human Genome Diversity Project collects blood, hair and saliva samples from 700 groups of people judged to be in danger of extinction on the pretext of preventive health care. The gene samples find their way into the laboratories of industry to provide the basis for valuable patents.
Worldwide only a handful of idealistic scientists are defying industry, doing independent research on the effects of transgenic animals and plants on the environment and our health when we consume genetically modified food. This leads to the conclusion that not only does genetic engineering pose a serious scientific problem, it also challenges fundamental democratic principles, and deserves the widest possible public discussion. The 60-minute version was created for easier use in the classroom. It concentrates on the genetic manipulation of plants and animals only, and omits the section on eugenics.