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by Bud Buck, 1/07/99

Dc: This is DCR, a news program that's reality free!
It was announced this week that the two largest natural foods retailers in America are removing many genetically engineered foods from their shelves, part of a perceived anti-biotech uprising among consumers.
Recently Bud Buck reported on the growing controversy over a genetically altered anti-baldness drug called "Gro Firma." Now the creator of "Gro Firma" is enmeshed in another genetic engineering controversy that promises to be even larger and further reaching. Here's his report.

(sfx: summer outdoors)

Bud: Sunrise over the parsley fields of southern California, and if you listen, you can hear a soft, persistent munching.

(sfx: soft, persistent munching)

In years past, that sound would indicate the fields were being devoured by the crops most dreaded pest, the Angolan Parsley Beetle. But in this field, this time around, something is different. Howard Temple is the parsley farmer who owns this field.

Howard: The apparatus that protects the plant grows out the top, on a long spindly neck that can reach all the way down to the ground if need be. When a parsley beetle approaches, it's attracted to the scent at the top, climbs up and is devoured. It's a miracle, and I love it.

Bud: Howard Temple's miracle comes courtesy of Genway, a major producer of genetically engineered foods. Genway's founder and produce manager, Dr. Larry Kyle, was recently the focus of another environmental protest over the company's baldness drug, Gro Firma, which used aggressive dandelion traits to, among other things, grow hair on a bowling ball.

Dr. Kyle: I admit we sometimes need to do a bit of fine tuning! Heh heh heh ... and we've pretty much done that with Gro Firma, more or less. We're still having a few isolated incidents where there's an outbreak of Gro Firma hair on a parking lot or a piece of furniture or a baby ... but for the most part we've found a way to inoculate most bald things against the drug. But the fuss over our Beetle Proof Parsley ... I don't get it. Everybody loves parsley. It really dresses up a plate. If we can keep our domestic parsley supplies healthy with this tiny change in the genetic code ... involving less than a tenth of a percent of the genetic make up of the plant ... isn't that a good thing?

Bud: Is it? I put that question to Summer Squall of the environmental group Evergreen Agitators.

Summer: The Genway Beetle Proof Parsley Plant is going to destroy our mother. And we can't stand by and watch ... we must strangle this beast before it claims our very lives!

Bud: Squall and other activists claim the modified Venus Flytrap which Dr. Kyle has introduced to the standard Parsley plant is a voracious monster.

Summer: Does it eat the beetles? Sure. It also eats mosquitos, ladybugs, slugs, worms, houseflies, butterflies, walking sticks, praying mantises, weeds, dirt, and small birds. And that's just in the field!

Bud: In fact, some critics have claimed that Genway Beetle Proof Parsley doesn't stop eating even after it's been picked and sent to market.
Louis Habitue' is head chef at La Plumere.

(sfx: restaurant kitchen bg)

Louis: I put ze parsley on ze plate ... ze waiters took the plates to ze dining room ... and by the time the food was on the table, half the cordon bleu ... it was gone! They thought I had been eating it in the kitchen! But it was the parsley ... it does not stop! It must eat, always eat, eat, eat! I will never recover from this! Never!

(sfx: restaurant kitchen bg fade out)

Bud: A frightening story? I asked Dr. Kyle if it could be true that the parsley eats the other food on the plate.

(sfx: bolt)

Kyle: Anything's possible. My years in the biotech industry have proven that! Heh heh heh heh heh. But so what? Hollywood has become rich scaring people. Why shouldn't the food industry do the same?

(sfx: bolt)

You solve a problem, and sometimes you make a new one! But people should relax and give us a chance to fix our mistakes.
Everything is cyclical. Every chicken comes home to roost. Even if that chicken comes home with buffalo horns on it ... it still comes back around and you have to face it.

Summer: This has nothing to do with nature. This is the opposite of nature. I'm appalled. Don't think for a minute that Genway will stop this. They've got too much money in it.

Bud: Summer Squall of Evergreen Agitators. She apears to have a point. Confronted with the story that his altered parsley was eating other food off the rest of the plate, Dr. Kyle offered, not a scientific, but a marketing solution.

Kyle: We could position it as "diet parsley."

(sfx: bolt)

Heh heh heh ... load up your plate ...and then get ready to lose weight, because the parsley will race you for the main course! And it eats the fatty stuff first! Heh heh heh heh heh heh heh (fade)

Summer: See, it's a marketing problem, that's all. They don't care what happens with this stuff, as long as you'll buy it. But what if it were to get loose ... in, say, an agricultural region ... let's say California's Central Valley? Would any crop be safe?

Bud: How about it, Dr. Kyle? Could it get loose?

Kyle: We didn't give it legs. I think that was a responsible decision.

Bud: But could it get loose?

Kyle: Heh heh heh ... not if people dispose of it properly.

(sfx: bolt)

Put it in a plastic bag ... tie the bag tight ... and then, in the light of a full moon ... plunge your fork into the parsley! Over and over and over!

(sfx: bolt)

Heh heh heh heh ... or you could just eat it! Save the world, eat your parsley! It could be a wonderful ad campaign.

Summer: It WILL get loose. No question. For generations, parsley has been left lying there on the plate ... and thrown away and forgotten. That's not going to change ... although Dr. Kyle and Genway have given parsley to tools it needs to make us take notice! We're going to pay for that, believe me!

Bud: And so the battle lines are drawn over the latest genetically engineered marvel, "Beetle Proof Parsley." Will it be a boon to parsley ranchers, or a menace to society? Or both? Time will tell!
This is Bud Buck!

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