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
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
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.
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?
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."
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.
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!
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!
Dale Connelly Reporting Home