The Hightower Report

Mad scientists and Big Brother … maybe we should be paranoid!


Thank you, Monsanto. Thank you, Scotts. These two pesticide giants have inadvertently demonstrated the scientific insanity of using our own Mother Nature as a lab rat in their rush to market bioengineered products.

Monsanto and Scotts recently teamed up to genetically alter a turfgrass called creeping bentgrass, primarily used on golf courses. The two corporations artificially manipulated the genes of this grass seed, not so the grass would require less water or less mowing – but solely so it can absorb greater doses of the companies' pesticides, thus increasing corporate sales.

But scientists warned that this altered grass would spread its pollen to far away grasslands, displacing native species, creating superweeds, and ... well, messing mightily with Mother Nature's delicate balance. Oh, don't be such worrywarts, said the companies – this grass has been thoroughly tested ... so take a hike.

But, their so-called "tests" wouldn't get a passing grade at a high-school science fair. One, for example, tested only a minuscule plot of one-tenth of an acre, finding that the pollen drifted only 1,400 feet ... so, no problem.

Cute, but now a serious test has been done by the EPA. "This is one of the first really realistic studies that has been done," admits the guy who did the one-tenth-of-an-acre testette. Indeed, this real test was on 400 acres – more like a real golf course would be. The pollen of these altered plants drifted not 1,400 feet – but at least 13 miles.

What this makes clear is that the genetically altered corporate product is not only going to escape and contaminate our environment, but it'll do so – as one expert now concedes – "a lot faster and a lot further than people anticipated."

It also makes clear that we can't trust corporations that base their global safety claims on one-tenth of an acre. To help fight their insanity, go to


If you're an aspiring performer who wants to be on the screen, Chicago might be your kind of town. In fact, virtually everyone in the Windy City will soon be seen – by various police authorities.

In a leap into the abyss of the surveillance society, Chicago authorities are installing a web of spy cameras linked to a sophisticated new computer program that not only will view everyone who appears on various streets, but will also alert police agents when anyone is "acting suspicious." What is "suspicious"? Wandering around aimlessly, lingering outside a building, pulling your car over to the shoulder of a highway, leaving a package in a doorway – and other common acts you and I have done a thousand times.

"What we're doing is a totally new concept," says the director of this intrusive technology. "It's going to take us to a whole new level." I'll say! The snoopervision cameras can zoom in on you and follow you from camera to camera, recording your every move, whether or not you're doing anything wrong.

Faceless bureaucrats will sit in an undisclosed, fortified building, monitoring the screens and dispatching armed police to accost loiterers, aimless wanderers, and other "suspicious" characters. Not only will the police place these so-called "smart" cameras around town, but so will housing, transportation, and other city agencies – even street sweepers! – making Chicagoans the most-watched people in America. Orwell would be so proud!

Of course, the authorities insist that this is for our own good, claiming we'll all be safer. Chicago's new surveillance director says: "The value we'll gain in public safety far outweighs any perception by the community that this is Big Brother who's watching."

But, wait a minute, it is Big Brother watching! Yet, Chicago's mayor dismisses all of us pesky civil libertarians, saying that, after all, "We're not inside your home or your business."

Not yet, they're not.

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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bioengineering, Monsanto, Scotts, bioengineered, creeping bentgrass, Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, Chicago, surveillance, spy cameras

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