Nancy Scola

Nancy Scola is a writer based in New York. Her work has appeared in Science Progress, Politics Magazine, AlterNet, and the Columbia Journalism Review.

Recent Articles

When Hating Monsanto Isn't Enough.

Spencer Ackerman says he's tired of arguments like the one I made yesterday about Monsanto. In brief, I said that painting a giant bull's-eye on the agri-giant and launching all of our arrows in that direction is, perhaps, not a fully-formed strategy. "Monsanto is a despicable corporation," writes Spencer. "Monsanto's evil is both distinct and strong." And Spencer's sentiment is right. Monsanto's impact on the world of agriculture has often been enormously damaging. That, in fact, is the case I made when I detailed how Paul Bremer's Coalition Provisional Authority imposed upon Iraq a seed patenting regime that seemed ordered up by Monsanto itself. I tied Iraq's new agricultural reality to what's happening in India, where farmers caught in corporate farming's cycle of debt are killing themselves by the thousands -- sometimes by drinking Monsanto's Roundup® herbicide. I've also written about how Monsanto and its ilk are warping research and development in the U.S.' ag schools; today,...

Getting Beyond Monsanto.

The Associated Press is plainly trying to nail agricultural giant Monsanto for unfair licensing practices that use a variety of tactics to lock small farmers and small seed companies in binding relationships, for better or for worse. Sometimes, Monsanto requires that its modified seeds make up a majority of a seed company's stock, edging out competitors. In other cases, they've made companies agree to both exclusivity and non-disclosure agreements. Is Monsanto in anti-trust trouble here? Perhaps, and legal authorities are rightly looking into it. But let me take what might be a controversial suggestion: The unyielding focus on Monsanto's supposedly evil ways might serve to make us less knowledgeable about what's going on with American agriculture, not more. Monsanto makes a ripe target. You've got your unquestioning boosterism of genetically modified plants. You've got the fact that they were the folks who whipped up the first batch of Agent Orange. And yes -- science, in Monsanto's...

Dave Eggers to the Rescue. Really.

Melissa Goldstein points out that at a cost of $16, 320 pages and several months of production time, Dave Eggers ' latest print project, San Francisco Panorama , isn't going to provide a road map for the revival of the American newspaper industry. The one-off publication benefits from the work of authors like Michael Chabon , Miranda July , and Junot Diaz , and contains features like a gorgeous two-page, full-color spread introducing readers to "NASA's Living with a Star space-weather research program." Eggers' aim is to produce "a physical object that doesn't retreat, but instead luxuriates in the beauties of print." I'm not sure Eggers' reveling in the warm embrace of print is going to inspire the beleagured newspaper business. And he sets himself up as an easy target for a Gawker drive-by mocking of him. But I'm not so sure Eggers isn't still onto something. It just isn't something that applies to newspapers. I'm a big fan of Eggers, and where his own storytelling has been most...

Counterfeiting and Bootlegging Are Not the Same Thing.

Indiana Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh's commentary on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement being negotiated internationally and in secret is, as EFF's Richard Esguerra points out , so completely misguided that you might think he was being disingenuous -- if not for the fact that there were probably dozens of other senators, on both sides of the aisle, earnestly nodding their heads alongside him. It's a strange quirk of Washington that it is socially and politically acceptable for otherwise intelligent politicians to admit to an ignorance of technology's nuances that I'm not sure you could necessarily get away with in, say, health care. Or defense. What Bayh does is to conflate the counterfeiting of concrete consumer products with the use and abuse of digital "intellectual property." Here's Bayh: In the face of expanding commerce, we cannot lose sight of our fundamental responsibility - protecting Americans from imports that pose significant health and safety risks. Intellectual...

Comcastic.

The last few days, a petition asking people to take a pledge against genocide has been floating around Twitter. I'll admit to thinking, "I wonder how many signatures a pro -genocide push would get?" Tweeting against mass extermination feels good and rallies emotions. But there's no real cost or sacrifice. There's something similar going on with net neutrality. For all but the national politicians who get considerable telecom dollars, staking out a position against online content discrimination isn't particularly dangerous -- especially considering that even the cable companies and network owners aren't arguing that they should be able to stop customers from connecting freely to the websites of their choice. Being pro-digital neutrality isn't a neutral position, but it hasn't been a particularly politically costly one. That's probably about to change. Enter Comcast's proposed purchase of a majority stake of NBC Universal, and the coming debate over government approval. Now, the idea of...

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