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Silent winter; Sane cow disease; Percy Schmeiser speaks out; Closing the commons; Other CropChoice news, commentary

(May 28, 2004 -- CropChoice news) -- Below are links to some of this week's CropChoice news and commentary.

  • Privatisation and the public domain
    (Thursday, May 27, 2004 -- CropChoice guest commentary) -- Once upon a time, the public domain was very large and very diverse. In fact, it probably accounted for most human activity and organization. Private property was very limited -- little more than a knife, a cooking pot or two, some clothing and maybe a goat. Over time (to make a long story very short) people began accumulating possessions -- some more than others -- and the concept of 'mine' and 'yours' took on greater meaning. As disparities in the distribution of wealth and property deepened, these possessions began to require 'protection'. With the industrial revolution and the rise of a materialist culture in what we now call 'The West,' property gained increasing prominence as the measure of success and the concept was extended to inventions and non-material ideas. Then came the drug companies, the software companies, the giant media corporations... and the World Trade Organization and its TRIPS agreement... http://www.cropchoice.com/leadstry.asp?recid=2584

  • Sane cow disease: Will ranchers and consumers catch grass-fed fever?
    (Monday, May 24, 2004 -- CropChoice guest commentary) -- Like most U.S. ranchers, I went a little weak in the knees at this country’s first case of mad-cow disease. But after the quick rebound in cattle prices and consumer confidence, I’m more heartsick than relieved. For all the harm that one BSE-infected cow could have done the beef industry, she also sent a signal for much-needed changes that would increase both the economic viability of small cattle producers and the health and safety value of our product. So far, that signal has gone unheard... http://www.cropchoice.com/leadstry.asp?recid=2579

  • Percy Schmeiser claims moral and personal victory in Supreme Court decision
    (Tuesday, May 25, 2004 -- Cropchoice guest commentary) -- The Supreme Court handed down their decision yesterday and I have mixed emotions to it... http://www.cropchoice.com/leadstry.asp?recid=2582

  • Silent Winter? Biopharmed crops are turning wildlife -- and us -- into lab animals.
    (Thursday, May 27, 2004 -- CropChoice news) -- Claire Hope Cummings, WorldWatch magazine May/June 2004: WILLOWS, California—A winter storm is arriving here at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge. Ducks and geese are circling above the ponds, and as the first rain drops begin to fall, the birds start to drop from the sky by the thousands -- feet outstretched, necks arched, and wings beating back as they land on the water. Over-head, hundreds of black ibis etch thin rippling lines against the dark gray clouds. The noise is phenomenal -- the squawking of mallards and pintails, the honking of Snow and Ross’s geese, along with the sound of their wings flushing the air. In the background, resident red-wing blackbirds, already hidden in the reedy marshes, let out an occasional high-pitched trill. The annual return of hundreds of thousands of migratory waterfowl to the Sacramento Valley is quite a spectacle. From the birds’ perspective, the Valley is a tempting buffet. In the winter, flooded rice fields and riparian habitat offer their favorite aquatic foods and grasses. There are tons of seeds and grains to glean, left over from harvesting almost a half million acres of rice and other crops, and no less than six carefully managed National Wildlife Refuges to choose from. But these days, both resident and returning birds are feeding on experimental rice fields that have been planted with genetically engineered strains, including at least 50 acres of rice that has been engineered with human genes... http://www.cropchoice.com/leadstry.asp?recid=2589

  • Growing political support powers renewable energy into the mainstream
    (Thursday, May 27, 2004 -- CropChoice news) -- WorldWatch news release 05/19/04: Washington, D.C. – With oil and gas prices soaring amid deepening instability in the Middle East, renewable energy is emerging as a bright spot in the global energy economy—and is poised for a worldwide takeoff. According to a new study from the Worldwatch Institute, solar power generation has more than tripled globally in the past five years, and wind power generation has nearly quadrupled... http://www.cropchoice.com/leadstry.asp?recid=2588

  • How big agriculture and the US government bungled the biotech revolution and made a deal with the devil
    (Tuesday, May 25, 2004 -- CropChoice news) -- DAN BAUM , Playboy, 1jun04: John Sanford, a 34-year-old Cornell University professor, had two things on his mind in the fall of 1983. The first was how to transfer DNA from one living cell to another-an urgent mission for his lab, since the U.S. Supreme Court had recently decided that life-forms could be patented, owned and marketed for profit. The second was how to protect his home in a leafy neighborhood of Ithaca, New York from squirrels, specifically the aggressive gray varmints that had been vandalizing his bird feeders and tearing up his flower beds. The usually gentle pollen expert finally broke down and bought a BB gun to hold his ground against the garden invaders... http://www.cropchoice.com/leadstry.asp?recid=2581

  • Schmeiser loss leaves Monsanto empty handed
    (Thursday, May 27, 2004 -- CropChoice guest commentary) -- Percy Schmeiser's day in the sun may finally be coming to an end with last week's Supreme Court of Canada decision in his battle with agrochemical giant Monsanto. Percy, no doubt, is glad to see the end of it. Since being accused by Monsanto of planting Roundup Ready canola without paying the tech fee, Schmeiser's quiet life as a farmer has turned into a continual media circus. And, while the decision went against Schmeiser, in that the court allowed Monsanto to control seeds and plants containing its patented gene, Percy must be trying to hide a wry smile at the outcome. He lost the appeal in one sense, but in another, he can claim victory. The Supreme Court threw out the huge award given to Monsanto by the lower court. It left Schmeiser with no further penalty and each side paying its own court costs... http://www.cropchoice.com/leadstry.asp?recid=2590

  • 'Organic' outcry heeded: Feds withdraw changes allowing more pesticides... http://www.cropchoice.com/leadstry.asp?recid=2592

  • Companies must take responsibility for patented GMOs: organic farmers... http://www.cropchoice.com/leadstry.asp?recid=2586

  • Weed with RoundUp immunity spreads across Indiana... http://www.cropchoice.com/leadstry.asp?recid=2585

  • IP lawyer comments on decision in Monsanto Canada Inc. v. Schmeiser... http://www.cropchoice.com/leadstry.asp?recid=2580

  • SPA reminds farmers only two days left to participate in soybean check-off vote... http://www.cropchoice.com/leadstry.asp?recid=2591

  • McDonalds to seek non-biotech feed... http://www.cropchoice.com/leadstry.asp?recid=2587

  • Globalization: War by other means... http://www.cropchoice.com/leadstry.asp?recid=2578