monsanto grass
A test batch of Monsanto’s new genetically modified grass.

A bunch of interesting news and links from the past week or so:

Project Censored list — Project Censored lists the top events of 2003-04 that went unreported in the media. Leading the list are the accelerating gap between rich and poor, and Ashcroft’s corporatist agenda.

US doctors and pharmacists refusing to dispense birth control pills — Members of right-wing religious groups are now arguing that the birth control pill is a form of abortion and urging their members to refuse to dispense it, and arguing that any employment action stemming from this refusal constitutes an infringement on their religious freedoms. So far twelve US states have passed laws protecting their ‘right’ to refuse to provide birth control pills to women, many of whom already have little or no access to abortion services.

Leading economist refutes benefits of outsourcing and offshoring — Paul Samuelson, the economist whose textbooks in the subject most of us studied in university, has refuted what he calls “the popular polemical wisdom” that the benefits of outsourcing exceed its costs. Because of historical distortions in the market, he says, outsourcing and offshoring can bring about large net disadvantage to first-world countries, and most notably to their workers and the environment.

Monsanto unleashes another monster — I reported recently that Colombian cocaine growers have now developed a coca plant that is resistant to Roundup, the Monsanto weedkiller that has been aerial sprayed in massive quantities by the US across much of Colombia in an attempt to eradicate the crop, devastating natural vegetation and helping to ruin that country’s agricultural economy in the process. Now Monsanto, which makes its money by selling patented seeds resistant to the poisons it manufactures, wants to sell a new patented grass, also resistant to Roundup, to golf courses. The move is opposed not only by environmentalists, but by the US Forestry Service and Bureau of Land Management as well. Genes from test batches of the new grass have been found as much as thirteen miles from the test area (as far as the test looked for it), raising fears that the new patented grass will proliferate across the country, supplanting natural grasses and transferring its DNA to new weed species that will be similarly weed-resistant.

TiVo, Replay agree to limits — In a sad acknowledgement of the strength of the entertainment media oligopoly, the makers of personal video recorders have agreed to incorporate new technology that will prevent multiple viewing of recorded pay-per-view programming.

Another great essay from Tony Kushner — As an antidote to the five stories above, Natasha at Pacific Views points out a great essay called Despair Is a Lie We Tell Ourselves. It’s a great remedy for the sense of hopelessness a lot of progressives are feeling these days. Last year I published excerpts from Kushner’s wonderful commencement address to Columbia College.

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  1. Rayne says:

    AAAGGGHHH!!! The Monsanto grass is a MONSTER!!! Canadians can attest to this, no doubt; a grower of rapeseed was sued successfully by Monsanto simply because Monsanto’s GMO material drifted into his non-GMO stock.Could anyone with a lawn, any patch of grass, find themselves sued by Monsanto if their GMO grass seed drifted into their lawns? Is Monsanto’s schtick not the growth of Roundup resistant grass but the potential for revenues from lawsuits? Think about it — there’s a lot more of us growing grass than farmers growing rapeseed!Join Organic Consumers Association ( now to fight this menace!

  2. “…and Ashcroft’s corporatist agenda.” That’s not even as much news as it is common knowledge. The weird thing is that everybody sort of shrugs as if it’s no big deal, almost expected, that Ashcroft and cronies have ulterior agendas. Heck, your average joe would happily try to make the most of their position if they could: looked at from a lower-middle-class point of view — that there’s never enough money and using every advantage is the only way to pay the bills — it’s understandable. Most people can’t concieve of the vast amounts of wealth already owned by Ashcroft, and fail to grasp the fact that he doesn’t actually NEED more; that he enjoys playing — and winning — The Game at all costs, including other people’s lives and health.Ok, I’m done.

  3. Dave Pollard says:

    Rayne: I’m trying. In addition to buying almost everything local nowadays we’re starting to buy organic products as long as they’re not exorbitantly priced and not (my pet peeve with a lot of organic merchandise) overpackaged and overprocessed. I think it’s going to take a major disaster before enough people will care enough about GM products to send Monsanto to the showers once and for all. My concern is that Bush is working hard to indemnify more and more corporations from litigation by consumers and citizens, so they can pretty well get away with anything until we get a new administration to start undoing the damage.Renee: Nice rant. He’s just such an obnoxious and nasty guy I’m amazed at how much leeway he gets in the press. Maybe they’re all afraid of his bad temper and long memory. He’s the American Stalin.

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