The Hightower Report

Farmer David fights Monsanto Goliath; and it's not torture if Bush says it's not


Hoist a glass of cheer for Percy Schmeiser!

An unlikely hero, Percy is a family farmer who raises grain in Saskatchewan, Canada. In the last several years, however, his main crop has been raising hell against the brutish tactics of Monsanto.

This multibillion-dollar global pusher of genetically manipulated Frankenfoods went after Percy with all of its corporate might, unleashing the hounds of hell from its legal department. Mr. Schmeiser raises canola, saving the seeds from one year's crop to plant a new crop the next year, as farmers worldwide have done for ages. But in 1997 Monsanto's hired spies found that some of the corporation's patented, genetically altered canola plants were in Percy's fields and their seed had been replanted by him. So this giant sued him, branded him a thief, demanded his profits, and sought damages, penalties, fees, and court costs from the poor guy.

Yet Percy had not planted Monsanto's perverted seeds; rather his unadulterated crop had been contaminated by pollen from altered Monsanto plants that had drifted from other fields. He argued that Monsanto's patent was hardly valid in such a case, and that he owed nothing for seeds he didn't know he had, had not wanted, and had gained no profit from.

He valiantly fought a long and costly legal battle against this bully, and now Canada's Supreme Court has ruled. While a narrow majority said Monsanto's patent was valid, Percy won a big personal victory, for the court agreed that he had not profited, was not a thief, and owed not a penny to the corporation.

Also, while the court ruled that Monsanto did have ownership to the altered plants that appeared in Percy's fields, this ruling is likely to bite the corporation on the butt. With ownership comes legal responsibility, and it opens the courthouse doors for farmers to sue Monsanto for contaminating their fields with its adulterated plants.

To learn more about his heroic fight, go to


Remember when George W was on his moral high horse in the 2000 campaign, shooting his little political pistols and pledging to restore "moral authority" to the White House?

What a kidder! Smoking memos have now been revealed showing that Bush and his political sidekicks have dragged the White House down to the lowest of moral low grounds. They have quietly had their lawyers twisting legal language inside out and parsing definitions in order to claim that Bush has the unilateral right to authorize the torture of prisoners of war.

Yes, the same president who so loudly said that he was "disgusted" by the recent photos of prisoner torture at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, had earlier set the White House's moral bar at an anything-goes level. As early as 2002, he had his lawyers developing perverse and shameful legal opinions that say the president – and his underlings – are not bound by U.S. law or the Geneva Convention, both of which ban the use of torture and consider it a war crime.

A 2003 Pentagon memo bluntly asserts that the president is above the law: "In order to respect the president's inherent constitutional authority to manage a military campaign ... [the laws against torture] must be construed as inapplicable."

The Bushites are taking a page from the dirty old playbook of Tricky Dick Nixon, who claimed during his Watergate crimes that "When the president does it, that means it's not illegal."

But wait, if a U.S. president can simply say, "Poof! I'm exempt from your prissy laws against torture," won't rulers in other countries then be able to claim the same when they have our soldiers in their prisons? And, if the moral standard at the top is one of anything goes, won't that attitude inevitably filter down the ranks? As one career military attorney put it: "Once you start telling people it's okay to break the law, there's no telling where they might stop."

Searching for legal rationalization to commit war crimes disgraces the White House.

For more information on Jim Hightower's work – and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown – visit You can hear his radio commentaries on KOOP Radio, 91.7FM, weekdays at 10:58am and 12:58pm.
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Percy Schmeiser, Monsanto, canola, genetically modified organisms, Frankenfoods, George W. Bush, torture, memo

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