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The Dangers of Speaking out against GMO's. American's defending Free Speech.

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posted on Aug, 21 2011 @ 02:02 PM
The case in a nutshell, an internationally renowned Artist was about to put on a display to educate the public about genetically modified food here in the US in May 2004 (already shown in Europe); just before the show his previously healthy wife suddenly died of heart failure. His exhibit did not make the show. He and the Genetics Professor that supplied the harmless bacteria for the show were initially charged with bioterrorism (20 year sentence). When it became clear this was not the case, the prosecutors charged the men with mail and wire fraud (20 year sentence) for something that at the most could have been a breech of civil contract law (and hence not a crime), which neither the company nor the university involved pursued. Why in the world would the Government continue with the prosecution of a man who just lost his wife and a well respected Scientist battling non-Hodgkin's lymphoma?
Because of this case, many of the manufacturers that formerly supplied amateurs and science hobbyists no longer will for fear of litigation. The case therefore has threatened to end independent research and seriously damage the public's ability to critique corporations, which will exercise even more exclusive control of scientific knowledge.

Dr. Steven Kurtz is a Professor of Art at SUNY Buffalo and a founding member, with his late wife, Hope, of the internationally acclaimed art and theater collective Critical Art Ensemble (CAE). Over the past decade cultural institutions worldwide have hosted CAE’s participatory theater projects that help the general public understand biotechnology and the many issues surrounding it. In May 2004 the Kurtzes were preparing to present Free Range Grain, a project examining GM agriculture, at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), when Hope Kurtz died of heart failure. Emergency personnel who responded to Kurtz's 911 call deemed the couple's art suspicious, and called the FBI. The art materials consisted of several petri dishes containing three harmless bacteria cultures, and a mobile lab to test food labeled “organic” for the presence of genetically modified ingredients. As Kurtz explained, these materials had been safely displayed in museums and galleries throughout Europe and North America with absolutely no risk to the public.The New York State Commissioner of Public Health determined that the materials seized by the FBI pose no public safety risk. All of the materials are legal and commonly used for scientific education and research activities in universities and high schools, and are universally regarded by scientists as safe. Nevertheless,Steve Kurtz and Robert Ferrell, Professor of Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public Health, faced a possible 20 years in prison in what has become increasingly clear is a politically motivated attempt to silence an artist and scientist whose work is critical of government policy. Initially they were charged with "bioterrorism" .

Professor Steve Kurtz was charged today by a federal grand jury in Buffalo, New York--not with bioterrorism, as listed on the Joint Terrorism Task Force's original search warrant and subpoenas, but with "petty larceny," in the words of Kurtz attorney Paul Cambria. Also indicted was Robert Ferrell, head of the Department of Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh's School of Public Health. The charges concern technicalities of how Ferrell helped Kurtz to obtain $256 worth of harmless bacteria for one of Kurtz's art projects.
The laws under which the indictments were obtained--Title 18, United States Code, sections 1341 and 1343, covering mail and wire fraud--are normally used against those defrauding others of money or property, as in telemarketing schemes. The Patriot Act, upped the sentence for mail and wire fraud from 5 -20 years.

This is a far cry from the bioterrorism charges originally sought by the District Attorney. To make a "federal case" out of such minor allegations, the District Attorney will have the burden of proving criminal intent.
"There was very obviously no criminal intent," said Kurtz attorney Cambria. "The intent was to educate and enlighten." Cambria suggested that the pursuit of such a minor case at the federal level was profoundly absurd. "If the University of Pittsburgh feels that there was a contract breach, then their remedy is to sue Steve for $256 in a civil court."

February 14, 2008,Buffalo, NY -- Dr. Steven Kurtz's friend and former co-defendant Dr. Robert Ferrell was sentenced in federal district court on Monday.
Dr. Ferrell was fined $500 and was given one year of "unsupervised release," meaning he will not have to report to federal probation officers. He pleaded “guilty” last October to a misdemeanor due to severe health problems.
After reading what he called numerous "powerful" and "very strong" letters of support from colleagues and the Chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh, Judge Richard Arcara said he gave Ferrell "the most lenient sentence I could give."
Ferrell could have been fined $5,000 and sentenced to six months in jail.
Dr. Dianne Raeke Ferrell said the prosecution has been “extremely stressful” for her husband. Dr. Robert Ferrell has had several recurrences of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma since being diagnosed in 1980, and has had three strokes since he and Kurtz were indicted on federal "mail fraud" charges in 2004.
Department of Justice Fails to Appeal Dismissal Kurtz Speaks about Four-Year Ordeal
Buffalo, NY--Dr. Steven Kurtz, a Professor of Visual Studies at SUNY at Buffalo and cofounder of the award-winning art and theater group Critical Art Ensemble, has been cleared of all charges of mail and wire fraud. On April 21, Federal Judge Richard J. Arcara dismissed the government's entire indictment against Dr. Kurtz as "insufficient on its face." This means that even if the actions alleged in the indictment (which the judge must accept as "fact") were true, they would not constitute a crime. The US Department of Justice had thirty days from the date of the ruling to appeal. No action has been taken in this time period, thus stopping any appeal of the dismissal. According to Margaret McFarland, a spokeswoman for US Attorney Terrance P. Flynn, the DoJ will not appeal Arcara's ruling and will not seek any new charges against Kurtz.

You can watch the movie about this on Netflix "Strange Culture"
or here's a u tube link from Pipebomb24875 post earlier in the year

Here's the official Critical Art Ensemble web page I used to summarize the case.

posted on Aug, 21 2011 @ 02:39 PM
I have no doubt they could have rigged the whole thing further and hand-picked a judge (not an unknown tactic). Fortunately the DOJ is satisfied that 4 years of crushing stress and depression, presumably crippling legal fees, and constant threat of disproportionate punishment is enough to get their point across; so there's no need to pursue the case any further.

I wonder how many taxpayer dollars were thrown down this particular rathole?
edit on 8/21/2011 by Ex_CT2 because: (no reason given)

ETA: Ah. I see that he was backed by the CAE Defense Fund. Lucky he wasn't just any starving artist; the outcome could have been a lot worse....
edit on 8/21/2011 by Ex_CT2 because: (no reason given)

posted on Aug, 21 2011 @ 03:10 PM
reply to post by Ex_CT2

I guess the 4 years was enough to put others in Academia off the idea of educating the public on this issue, and I guess given the probable long term objective they figured the money was well spent.

WikiLeaks Cables Reveal U.S. Sought to Retaliate Against Europe over Monsanto GM Crops
U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks reveal the Bush administration drew up ways to retaliate against Europe for refusing to use genetically modified seeds. In 2007, then-US ambassador to France Craig Stapleton was concerned about France’s decision to ban cultivation of genetically modified corn produced by biotech giant Monsanto. He also warned that a new French environmental review standard could spread anti-biotech policy across Europe.

In the leaked cable, Stapleton writes, quote, "Europe is moving backwards not forwards on this issue with France playing a leading role, along with Austria, Italy and even the [European] Commission...Moving to retaliation will make clear that the current path has real costs to EU interests and could help strengthen European pro-biotech voice.""Country team Paris recommends that we calibrate a target retaliation list that causes some pain across the EU since this is a collective responsibility, but that also focuses in part on the worst culprits. The list should be measured rather than vicious and must be sustainable over the long term, since we should not expect an early victory," he wrote.

posted on Aug, 21 2011 @ 03:21 PM
"Setting an example"

Unfortunately this happens a lot, still today.

Same as with the phone-tap scandal, a few witnesses suddenly die, now everyone with info thinks twice before opening their mouth.

In a world controlled by trillions of dollars and vast interests, multiple wars ...

Do you really think they let one man spoil their fun?

posted on Aug, 21 2011 @ 03:43 PM
reply to post by EartOccupant

Or however many people it takes ...

Árpád Pusztai and Genetically Modified Potatoes
The following paragraph was taken from an interview of Dr. Pusztai, "We had two kinds of potatoes - one GM and the other non-GM. I had expected that the GM potato, with 20 micrograms of a component against the several grams of other components, should not cause any problems. But we found problems. Our studies clearly show that the effects were not due to that little gene expression, but it depended on the way the gene had been inserted into the potato genome and what it did to the potato genome. The rats fed on the genetically modified potatoes showed lower intestine damage and harm to their immune systems.

The Rowett Institute received two phone calls from 10 Downing Street. [5] According to Professor Robert Orskov OBE, who worked at the Rowett for 33 years and is one of Britain's leading nutrition experts. The phone calls went from Monsanto, the American firm which produces 90% of the world's GM food, to Bill Clinton and then to Tony Blair, and then to Rowett direcor Philip James.[6]

'Clinton rang Blair and Blair rang James,' says Professor Orskov.

Phone calls to Árpád Pusztai's office were diverted, and Árpád Pusztai was suspended and legally gagged, along with his wife and colleague Susan Bardocz. His data was confiscated and his team were disbanded. The potatoes were subsequently destroyed, along with all details of their modification (a commercial secret of Cambridge Agricultural Genetics, which subsequently ceased business).

In 1999 Árpád Pusztai and Stanley Ewen published their results in The Lancet (link below). An unamed member of the Royal Society allegedly put strong pressure on The Lancet not to publish, including a threatening phone call to The Lancet editor.

posted on Aug, 22 2011 @ 02:00 AM
This is becoming such a serious problems I am unsure what to do. There is a growing body of evidence that is showing the clear dangers of GMO, yet it is continually being shut down and denied. The first step in fixing any problem is to identify it, but as there is no political will to admit to these problems the whole human race is at a growing and significant risk of irreparable genetic damage. The Eugenics movement does appear to have the upper hand here, how can we get some reason back into the debate? Or is humanity deemed as a failed experiment and set to expire?

posted on Aug, 22 2011 @ 12:13 PM
reply to post by kwakakev

The main issue appears to be public apathy / ignorance here in the America’s.... the oh everything’s gonna kill you attitude..... Also any time there’s an article on MSM over here with regard to GMO’s there appears to be a well mobilized troll army out there pointing out it’s all so safe and tested …..hahahaha

Trying to get people to understand that they’re probably destroying their kidney’s, livers immune system and genetic health is an uphill battle, that their chances of grandkids is diminishing.
That this Monsanto method of farming is pushing family farmers out of business, it will destroy organic or even conventional farming (roundup over sprays / cross pollination), that’s it’s destroying the land, polluting the water , the air and killing the prolific pest eating amphibians, and I’m sure it’s not having a good effect on many other species either. Not only that but to have one company be in control of practically ALL the Worlds food, with massive mono cultures everywhere is not something that helps me sleep at night. I guess until something really acute happens and most of the people feel direct hardship from it here in the US nothing will be done. The only ray of hope is that the Organic food market over here is still growing up 7.7% last year vs. total food sales up 1%, so now it’s 4% of the market …. We need it to grow much more if we are to stand a chance.

As for population issues, IMHO , we need to spend a teeny fraction of global military spending to educate women and provide them with easily available and free contraception. Currently the world does actually produce enough food to more than feed our huge population. Which incidentally could all squeeze into Australia (not that I’m suggesting that happen).

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