What evil are they doing to our dirt? The Authors Collection.
October 25, 2013
Robert B. Lowe
It was almost exactly 20 years ago when I finished the first draft of my first novel. It took a few more drafts, 18 years and the advent of the self-publishing boom before Project Moses reached bookshelves and became available on Amazon.
At the heart of the conspiracy in the mystery thriller was a biotech company specializing in agricultural products that had abandoned all ethics. To keep short-term profits flowing and Wall Street analysts happy, the company was creating and selling genetically-engineered weapons to destroy countries’ food supplies.
The long-term plan of AgriGenics was even more ambitious. It would take the laboratory-developed scourges, turn them loose and then unveil the genetically modified antidotes – super seeds with the necessary immunity to grow and thrive.
“This means patent rights to most of the grain grown in this country,” says the AgriGenics CEO. “That means ownership and that means profits. Every farmer who tills the soil, every maker of bread, everyone who buys a box of cereal will pay us, gratefully, for their salvation.”
Today, the leading companies in the development of genetically modified crops – led by Monsanto – are pursuing a strategy remarkably similar to AgriGenics. And the results are impressive although their tactics (at least I think) are somewhat less evil.
Instead of developing new diseases to destroy, say, the corn and wheat crops of North America, Monsanto et al., rely on products developed across the hall in the weed-killing department. Herbicides like Roundup have become the go-to weed killer for corporate farmers and homeowners alike. Using the marvel of genetic manipulation, Monsanto and its brethren have developed “Roundup Ready” crops. Spray the field with the herbicide and all those troublesome grasses and weeds wither away while the corn and soybeans continue growing unfazed.
Cynics complain about possible byproducts of this approach.
First, there is the issue of encouraging heavier and heavier use of herbicides. Are we truly confident that these chemicals being absorbed into our foodstuffs, saturating the soil and running off into our water supply is a great thing?
And then there is the problem of resistance. The rule of natural selection mandates that a small percentage of the targeted pests – the wild grasses and weeds – will not only survive but dominate subsequent generations since all their weaker cousins have been turned into goop. Pouring more and more barrels of Roundup on the problem will only work for so long.
Why do I think there are teams of scientists hard at work right now coming up with a post-Roundup herbicide? The Scorched Earth team? The Armageddon Project? Or, perhaps just the Roundup II development team?
And wouldn’t it be handy if across the hall on the genetics side, another group of scientists was coming up with the Armageddon Ready seeds of tomorrow so the strategy of selling both the poison and the uber survivors can continue uninterrupted?
I can even hazard a guess as to when Monsanto’s next generation of herbicides and “ready” seeds will hit the market. It should be just about when the Roundup Ready patents expire.
Please click the book cover image to read more about Robert B. Lowe’s novel.