BYE BYE BIRDIE
Big old harvest moon hanging over the Happy Valley tonight; summer is done. It's cold in the morning and the afternoon sun doesn't burn for long and fades early. It's been quiet in town, I have no adventures to report but I did have another bird encounter.
I was walking down Pleasant Street when a baby sparrow flew in from behind me and landed two inches from my foot. He looked very young, he was barely fully feathered and he hopped along next to me, eating something invisible to my eye among the weeds growing through the cracks in the sidewalk. I became concerned he had fallen off the ledge and would get stepped on or hop into the the street. I crouched down on the sidewalk and starting talking to him, trying to get him around the corner of the building and into the shrubbery.
He was a bold little thing, he wasn't buying. He turned and hopped the other way. I followed. He was never more than four inches away from me. I suppose the passers-by thought I was crazy, crab-walking up the sidewalk and talking to a bird. Finally I tried the finger under the chest strategy. That finally freaked him out enough to send him flying. I held my breath as he threaded his way at headlight height through the oncoming traffic. He made it.
I started this blog with the intention of focusing pretty much on the legalization of marijuana, however as my understanding of the depth and breadth of this WODSU grew, I came to understand that such a narrow focus would not solve the harm inflicted by this morally bereft campaign. The more I learn, the more it becomes apparent that this war is merely another ploy in the imperialistic agenda of Baby George Bush and his Papa's thugs, acting in concert with their corporate cronies.
Deepak Lal offers an excellent analysis of why the US and the Western European war on drugs has created conditions for the actual or incipient failure of the drug producing states. He explains why the illegal drug trade can only be curtailed if we legalise the industry, in this essay, DEALING WITH FAILED STATES.
For those of you who don't read the links - some of the pertinent excerts
The illegal drug trade was estimated to be about $400 billion in 1997, compared with a value of legal world exports of $5 trillion, that is about 8 per cent of the value of legal world trade (see A. Krueger and C. E. Aturupane : ‘International Trade in ‘Bads’’, in H. Giersch (ed) Merits and Limits of Markets). The profits from the trade are also huge.
In forming a judgement, the important point to bear in mind is that the former costs of drug use are by and large borne by the addict, while the costs of prohibition are borne by society. There is no doubt that legalisation of drugs would reduce their price — for heroin it is estimated for the US by a factor of 20= and this would, if demand is even mildly elastic, raise consumption.
The great societal fear is that this increase in addicts would fuel crime. But, as Miron and Zweibel show from the US evidence, drug related crime is not committed by those under the influence of drugs but rather to finance their drug habit.
Finally, the prohibition of drugs has created a whole class of criminals who have chosen to take drugs. Nearly 20 per cent of state and 60 per cent of federal prisoners have been incarcerated for drug law violations. The majority for not dealing but possessing drugs.
It is a sign of incredible inhumanity that a drug addict is thus made a victim for a victimless crime. Whatever the reasons for their addiction, they deserve our pity and compassion not incarceration.
The time has surely come to let people kill themselves with drugs if they choose to and not try to save them from themselves by a war which has not only done untold damage to the body politic in the consuming countries, but much more seriously to the many poor producing developing countries which have turned or are turning into failed states because of this unjustified war.
My pal Jeremy Bigwood reports once again on Monsanto's complicity in The Toxic War on Drugs.
He warns about us about a threat on our own soil:
Scientists are expressing alarm about the relationship between the application of a common weed killer to food crops and the resultant proliferation of potentially toxic fungal moulds in the harvest. Monsanto's popular product Roundup, which contains a chemical called glyphosate is alleged to increase the size of colonies of the fungus Fusarium, a genus of often very toxic moulds that occurs naturally in soils and occasionally invades crops, but usually held in check by other microbes. If true, these allegations not only call into question the world's number one weed killer, but they also jeopardize the world's acceptance of Monsanto's flagship line of genetically-engineered "Roundup Ready" crops.
Monsanto also enforces a contract for genetically altered seeds that are resistant to the herbicide. This could be coming to the cornfields of Kansas folks. According to an expert in the field, Dr. Robert Kremer:
Thus, if Roundup increases Fusarium levels, then "Roundup Ready" crops that use Roundup as a weed killer could become potential disasters, increasing Fusarium levels in the soil to such critical levels it could produce an epidemic and move from field to field throughout a wide area.
Another expert notes:
The Fusarium fungus can produce a range of toxins that are not destroyed in the cooking process such as vomitoxin, which as its name suggests, usually produces vomiting and not death, to the more lethal compounds which include fumonisin, which can cause cancer and birth defects to the very lethal chemical warfare agent fusariotoxin, more often referred to as T2 toxin.
Keep in mind that they are using this same product at 104 times the strength in their fumigation efforts in South America. They are destroying the heart of the Amazon Basin - the lungs of this planet, with this chemical. This kind of ecological damage cannot be undone in a day. It has to be stopped now.
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. I publish this story in it's entirety, and ask you to consider that a lot of our food is imported from these countries. Take note also that the cotton seed Monsanto is pushing here is being blamed for crop failures in Australia.
(2) TOP STORY: Treaty won't stop gene-spliced crops
BY JULIA OLMSTEAD
BOGOTA -- A global biosafety treaty set to take effect this week won't slow Colombia's transition to genetically modified organisms for its major food crops, according to scientists and consumer advocates here.
The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety will require labeling of gene-spliced imports such as seed, livestock and grain beginning September 11. The treaty, ratified by Colombia in May, also requires risk assessment and government consent before the organisms are released into a country's environment.
But the United States has not ratified the pact, and many provisions appear unlikely to withstand challenges before the World Trade Organization. The proposed U.S.-backed Free Trade Agreement of the Americas also would bar restrictions on genetically modified imports throughout the hemisphere. And St. Louis-based Monsanto seems positioned to win Colombia's approval of new gene-spliced crops.
President Alvaro Uribe Vélez's administration says genetic engineering can ease the country's agricultural crisis. Colombia already allows crops of gene-spliced cotton and blue carnations.
Monsanto supplies the cotton seed, engineered to include a gene from Bacillus thuringiensis, a type of soil bacteria that kills larvae of many insects. The gene occurs in every cell of the cotton plant and produces an insecticide, the basis of a Monsanto claim that the seed reduces pesticide use.
Monsanto won approval to sell the cotton seed to Colombian farmers last year. The company said tests during Colombia's 2000-2001 growing season determined that the cotton did not harm insect populations and that the risk of cross-pollination with conventional crops was insignificant.
But many scientists criticized the tests as inconclusive. Colombia's Environment Ministry wrote that the results "cannot be extrapolated to the rest of the country, and more research should be done on the implications of Bt cotton in commercial use."
Monsanto designed the cotton to control plagues of butterflies and moths, according to agronomist Germán Alonso Vélez, director of a nongovernmental group called Seeds. "In Colombia the problem is the cotton picudo--the pest that 70 percent of pesticides here are used for," he said in his downtown Bogotá office. "This won't solve the farm problem. This will just solve the problems of three or four multinational corporations."
Environmentalists say Monsanto has rigged the approval process. The National Technology Council backed the cotton's commercial introduction in a closed-door meeting in March 2002, just minutes after removing its president and replacing its vice president with a Monsanto representative, Vélez said. Seeds, Rosario University and the Bogotá-based Colombian Consumers filed an unsuccessful class-action suit last October against the Colombian Agriculture Institute's authorization of the cotton crops.
Monsanto's influence in Colombia stems partially from supplying glyphosate, the herbicide of a U.S.-backed effort to eradicate coca and opium poppy, the crops used to make cocaine and heroin.
Monsanto is following its cotton victory by pressing the government to allow field testing of Roundup Ready corn and soybeans. The company has genetically modified both seeds to resist the effects of glyphosate.
But some studies show weeds building quick resistance to the herbicide. And studies in Saskatchewan, the Canadian state, have linked glyphosate to Fusarium, a soil fungus that harms many crops. The European Union and Canada ban Roundup Ready seeds.
Food staples ranging from yucca to rice to coffee, meanwhile, are undergoing genetic modifications at Colombian facilities such as the Center for Research on Tropical Agriculture in the western town of Palmira.
Seeds is urging a Colombian moratorium on genetically modified organisms until the government has the technology and political independence to evaluate the crops.
Thanks to Tim Meehan, who posted the quote of my day by Thomas Jefferson:
“If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.”