"Troubled Waters" pollution documentary will run as scheduled

The University of Minnesota didn't want you to see "Troubled Waters," a documentary on agricultural pollution in the Mississippi River. But it's going public anyway.

Produced by the U's Bell Museum of Natural History, it represents years of research into the ways in which fertilizer runoff is killing the river, and the Gulf of Mexico.

But its premiere was canceled at the last minute after Karen Himle, the university's vice president of university relations, pulled the plug.

She's ducked reporters ever since. The issue is pretty clear, though. Agribusiness comes off looking bad in the film, and university said it needed more "scientific review."

But when the story broke about U trying to keep it away from the public, critics accused the U of censorship. And yesterday, 13 conservation and food groups signed a letter that called for Himle's head.

"This decision, and the lack of transparency surrounding it, causes us to question the university's commitment to truth-telling and academic freedom," the letter read in part. And, citing news stories about Himle's ties to agribusiness, it said the U should "ask for the resignation of Vice President Himle if she is deemed responsible for this decision."

By yesterday, Bell Museum director Susan Weller said she'd taken one more look at the film's scientific bona fides, and found everything in order. She said "Troubled Waters" will be released on Oct. 3 in its original form.

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