New pro-GM documentary on UK TV
2.Leading environmental campaigners support nuclear and GM
PROGRAMMES: What the Green Movement Got Wrong
First broadcast: Thursday 04 November, 9PM on Channel 4
What the Green Movement Got Wrong: The Debate Krishnan Guru-Murthy
First broadcast: Thursday 04 November, 10.20PM on Channel 4
NOTE: What the Green Movement Got Wrong from Channel 4 follows in a long line of highly controversial anti-environmentalist documentaries commissioned by this particular broadcaster. They include The Great Global Warming Swindle; the series Against Nature; Modified Truth - The Rise and Fall of GM; and The Greenhouse Conspiracy. And Channel 4 not only broadcasts its programmes in the UK but seeks to sell them around the world.
This latest programme from Channel 4 is supposedly about "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 the programme claims GM could save the world, and that the fact it hasn't already done so 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 developing world. So, essentially, the anti-GM movement is responsible for the hunger and deaths of millions. This kind of claim typified Channel 4's previous documentary series, Against Nature, which even branded environmentalists "Nazis", and it was also put forward in Channel 4's: Modified Truth - The Rise and Fall of GM.
So who are these "environmentalists across the world" who have performed a sudden u-turn on nuclear power and GM crops? According to the Sunday Telegraph (item 2 below), 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 cannot 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 has noted, "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.
Brand even claims patents are no problem with GMOs, nor a factor in their rejection. He suggests instead that European opposition to GM stems from French protectionism!
Brand's nuclear enthusiasm rests on equally dubious foundations.
The only people speaking on GM from the global South in the Channel 4 programme appear to be far from "environmentalists" - Florence Wambugu (trained by Monsanto and an advisor to DuPont, who heads a lobby group supported by CropLife International), and Shanthu Shantharam (a former employee of Syngenta who now heads the industry lobby group The Association of Biotech Led Enterprises). Both Wambugu and Shantharam have a long history of grossly misleading statements and extreme propagandising for GM.
What this programme completely lacks is GM opponents from the global South, even though Asia, Africa and Latin America have all provided hotbeds of opposition. (e.g., More than 100,000 Indians fast against GM crops)
There is a panel debate after the programme in which there are currently also no confirmed speakers from the South - apparently, the production company says it can't afford the air fares and it would spoil the look of the debate for anyone to appear on a screen!
George Monbiot has written: "Channel 4 upsets all sorts of people, and it has every right to do so. On all other issues it appears to do so in a random fashion, sometimes attacking people on one side of the debate, sometimes on the other. But one polemical position has kept recurring over the past 18 years: a fierce antagonism towards environmentalism. Some of these programmes have used misrepresentation, distortion or fabrication... It is arguable that no organisation in the United Kingdom has done more to damage the effort to protect the environment."
1.Channel 4 to broadcast what the green movement got wrong
Channel 4 Sales, 20 October 2010
On 4 November, Channel 4 will broadcast a film presented by a group of environmentalists from across the world who are challenging the movement they helped to create. They believe that in order to save the planet, humanity must embrace the very science and technology they once so stridently opposed. In this 75-minute film, these life-long, diehard greens advocate radical solutions to climate change, which include GM crops and nuclear energy. 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 film was commissioned by Head of News and Current Affairs Dorothy Byrne and has been made by Darlow Smithson. It will be followed the same evening by a 45-minute live studio debate, What the Green Movement Got Wrong: The Debate, chaired by Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow.
The presenters include:
* Environmentalist and critically-acclaimed author Stewart Brand, who was once a pioneer of the original green lobby. He is now at the vanguard of this new movement, which argues for a pragmatic, realistic approach to solving environmental problems. Brand explains how an overly romanticised vision of nature is stifling constructive debate and experimentation that could save the planet.
* British environmentalist and author Mark Lynas, who was part of a direct action group in the 1990s that raided GM research facilities and cream-pied climate sceptics. He has become frustrated with the lack of impact the environmental lobby has had on climate change despite decades of campaigning and blames its apocalyptic prophecies for losing the battle for public opinion. The green lobby, he says, 'cried wolf' too often. Lynas explains how the increasingly apparent necessity for a constant supply of clean energy led him to think the unthinkable and 'come out' as a supporter of nuclear technology. When it was first founded, one of the guiding principles of the conservationist movement was to oppose the testing of nuclear weapons. Lynas describes how this deep-seated fear of their destructive power continued with the development of nuclear energy, and was seemingly vindicated by the explosion at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the USSR. He travels to Chernobyl, ground zero for the anti-nuclear movement, to find out the real impact of this disaster
* Leading African scientist Dr Florence Wambugu, who is seeking practical solutions to hunger and malnutrition. She has spent 20 years developing GM staple crops, which are nutritionally enhanced, carrying traits for vitamins, iron and zinc. Dr Wambugu wants these crops to help reduce the high levels of child blindness and dramatically cut malnutrition in her home, Kenya, and other African countries, yet strong opposition, demonstrations and lobbying from the European anti-GM lobby have hindered their use. Dr Wambugu criticises what she believes to be a misguided anti-science ideology that has left tens of thousands of Africans starving: "They have no moral responsibility to tell us you cannot eat GM. The attitude is we can't even talk for ourselves, we need someone to talk for us... They don't offer you any alternative, they just tell you to stay out of it."
* Indian environmentalist Sunita Narain, who believes development is as important as protecting the environment. She wants to bring electricity to the 400 million people in India who currently live without it. She questions the fairness of asking the developing world to halt their use of energy by Western nations built on it: "Can you live without electricity? Can I live without electricity? So why do you expect anyone else to?"
* Dr Shantaram, a GM scientist and lobbyist who believes the reality is that no western lobby will be able to act the gate-keeper of new technologies. The leading edge of the science is now in the developing world and it is moving at break-neck speed. China is already planting genetically engineered corn and tobacco. He says: "The genie is out of the bottle, environmentalists will not win this war in the end. They will throw a lot of obstacles, they will delay, they will obfuscate but it is not stoppable, this technology has arrived and it is here to stay."
On commissioning the film, Head of News & Current Affairs Dorothy Byrne says: "There are ongoing lively and important debates within the environmental movement. This film is providing a platform for the alternative views of a group of pioneering thinkers who offer new, radical solutions to the environmental problems facing the planet. These environmentalists believe the future of the earth is dependent on our ability to adapt and be flexible, creative and ingenious through embracing science and technology."
John Smithson, Executive Producer and Chief Executive of Darlow Smithson says: "This is an ambitious, thought-provoking and controversial film by a top director. It offers a new and challenging perspective on how we tackle climate change and gives a voice to those who were once passionate environmental activists and now believe that the environment lobby needs to rethink its approach to the problems we face."
The studio debate, chaired by Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow, will include leading policy makers, commentators, scientists, entrepreneurs and economists as well as the preceding film's leading protagonists, former anti-GM activist and author Mark Lynas and Stewart Brand, a pioneer of the original green lobby.
2.Leading environmental campaigners support nuclear and GM
Richard Gray, Science Correspondent
Sunday Telegraph, 31 Oct 2010
Leading environmental campaigners have performed a u-turn on two key technologies they have opposed for decades by openly calling for greater use of nuclear power and genetically modified crops to help the world tackle climate change.
For years they campaigned against nuclear power and genetically-modified food. But now some leading environmental campaigners have performed a U-turn and said that they got it wrong.
The activists now say that by opposing nuclear power they encouraged the use of polluting coal-fired power stations, while by protesting against GM crops they prevented developing countries from benefiting from a technology that could have helped feed the hungry.
Mark Lynas, a campaigner who has been a member of action groups on GM foods and climate change, said the environmental lobby was losing the battle for public opinion on climate change because it had made too many apocalyptic prophecies and exaggerated claims.
He said: "We have got to find a more pragmatic and realistic way of engaging with people."
Stewart Brand, an American activist and former editor of Whole Earth Catalog, said: "I would like to see an environmental movement that says it turns out our fears about genetically engineered food crops were exaggerated and we are glad about that. It is a humble and modest stance to take to the real world.
"Environmentalists did harm by being ignorant and ideological and unwilling to change their mind based on actual evidence. As a result we have done harm and I regret it."
Patrick Moore, one of the founding members of environmental campaign group Greenpeace, added: "We were right that the nuclear industry had problems, but that didn't mean we should be against nuclear energy completely.
"We have caused extra gigatons of greenhouse gases to be released into the atmosphere by being so precious about nuclear."
The activists feature in the Channel 4 documentary What the Green Movement Got Wrong, which will be broadcast this week.
They say that by successfully lobbying against the building of new nuclear power stations, environmentalists forced governments around the world to build new coal fired power stations instead, resulting in billions of extra tonnes of carbon dioxide and pollution being poured into the atmosphere.
Mr Lynas, who along with other activists ripped up trial GM crops in the 1990s, said that GM food had now been consumed by millions of people in the US for more than 10 years without harm, and this had convinced him to change his views.
The campaigners say that since they expressed their change of position, they have been vilified by traditional sections of the environmental movement.
* What the Green Movement Got Wrong will be broadcast on Thursday 4 November at 9pm and will be followed by a live studio debate hosted by Channel 4 News presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy.