GENET archive


9-Misc: Researchers say University of Manitoba (Canada) blocked video on GM crops

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Researchers say University of Manitoba blocked video on GM crops
SOURCE: CP Wire, Canada, by Helen Fallding
        edited and sent by AGNET, Canada
DATE:   12 Sep 2005

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Researchers say University of Manitoba blocked video on GM crops

WINNIPEG -- Stephane McLachlan, an environment professor at the
University of Manitoba, and his PhD student Ian Mauro, were cited as
accusing the university of blocking the release of their video exploring
the risks of genetically modified crops while at the same time courting
funds from biotech companies.

The story explains that the two completed a feature-length documentary in
2002 with help from independent Winnipeg filmmaker Jim Sanders, and is
based on interviews with Prairie farmers about their experiences -- good
and bad -- with genetically modified canola.

But the Seeds of Change video has never been screened because the
university and the researchers, who share the copyright, have been unable
to negotiate an agreement on its release.

The story explains that the university originally demanded assurances it
would not be liable if anyone sued. One insurer demanded a $50,000
deductible for any lawsuits by crop marketer Monsanto, which has a
reputation for protecting its interests vigorously through the courts.

The company is featured in the documentary because of its legal battle
with a Saskatchewan farmer and its development of genetically modified
wheat. Monsanto Canada spokeswoman Trish Jordan was quoted as saying,
"Obviously, we've never seen (the video), so I'm not sure how these guys
could assume that we would sue them."

Now that a private investor has pulled out of the Seeds of Change project
and the filmmakers have made it clear they don't intend to make a profit,
the lawsuit issue has apparently been dropped by the university.

Alan Simms, who represented the university in early negotiations before
going on to head the university's Smartpark research complex, was quoted
as saying, "I've seen (the video) and I think it's fair. It's not a
biased kind of thing."

But McLachlan said the university is still demanding control over where
and when the video is shown, while at the same time requiring a
disclaimer indicating the project has nothing to do with the university.

University spokesman John Danakas would not say what restrictions the
university would place on how the video is screened, because those
details have not yet been discussed with the researchers.

The university wants to make sure the documentary is only used for
educational purposes, he said.


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