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by Wendy Vapors, 4/14/00

Dc: This is DCR. News meant for amusement.
The controversy concerning bioengineering continues with a new report from the Center for Flexible Statistics, which suggests that farmers are turning away from genetically improved plants. Why?
Nervous consumers are hesitant to accept the new technology.
In one highly publicized case … parsley farmers are walking away from a product that's been shown to inhibit … well, OK, it's been shown to eat … the Angolan Parsley Beetle. Wendy Vapors reports.

(sfx: city street)

Wendy: There is a revolution in the field of genetically altered crops, and the revolt is happening so slowly and quietly, you may not hear it unless you listen.

Kyle: (almost a whisper) With the tweezers, I'm going to put a beetle on the plant. As you see the vibrations travel down the leaf and up the stem … the operative part up at the top of the plant becomes activated.
It's feeling around … looking for the beetle.
Looking … searching … got it!

(sfx: crunch crunch crunch)

Heh heh heh heh.

(pause) Dr. Larry Kyle is produce manager at Genway, a supermarket for genetically engineered foods. His lab produced the beetle proof parsley.

(music: bali hai)

Kyle: The best defense is a good offense. We added Venus Fly Trap genes to the parsley, and now a huge set of jaws grow out the top of the plant, and it eats the bugs that have come to eat IT.
Yes, we've put Billions into this, and yet people find it creepy.

(sfx: bolt)

Heh heh heh … it's not only effective for the plant and safe for the consumers … it's beautiful! Simply beautiful! How can anyone have a problem with this?

(music: bali hai out)

Wendy: Summer Squall is with the environmental group Evergreen Agitators.

Summer: The problem is … the parsley doesn't stop eating. Ironic, isn't it? People generally don't eat parsley, but the parsley itself … won't quit! It eats other produce in the supermarket. It eats other food on the PLATE.
Does it eat the beetle? Sure. But also beets, rutabagas, and bean sprouts!

Wendy: And now parsley farmers appear to be in rare agreement with environmentalists. They are refusing to plant beetle proof parsley. One such farmer is Floyd Barber.

(sfx: outdoor summer morning)

Floyd: I've got about 100 acres of parsley here. I put in the Genway beetle proof last year and it worked great. Not a single bit of damage, not ONE LEAF was harmed by the parsley beetle. I've never had a product of any kind work that well for me. Huge yields. Huge.

Wendy: (int) That sounds like a very good experience.

Floyd: It was, right up to the moment when a mob of townspeople came marching out here with torches and set fire to my crop and my house.

Wendy: Ooooh.

Floyd: Genway did a great job genetically protecting against beetles. But until they come up with something that's anti-mob, anti-activist and anti-hysterical person screaming about the future and their children ... I'll take my chances with the insects.

(sfx: outdoor summer morning out)

Wendy: I asked Dr. Kyle if Genway would close the project and write off the cost of developing Beetle Proof Parsley.

(music: Bali Hai)

Kyle: No … we've got too much invested. We're hoping for a variance from the FDA that will make it possible to sell it in bulk amounts to kitchens for cleaning up dishes. Just throw the parsley on top of the plates and come back in an hour! No scrubbing. No muss. No fuss.

(sfx: bolt)

Heh heh heh heh heh. We're also talking to exterminators.
And the circus. This is a product that will find it's market.

Wendy: But not everyone involved agrees. Again, Evergreen Agitator, Summer Squall.

Summer: A man had some beetle proof parsley on his plate. He carelessly threw it in the garbage. The parsley ate the garbage. It ate the potatoes he was keeping under the sink. It gnawed through the PVC pipe and cleaned out the trap under the sink. Then it moved into the pantry. By the time he got home, it had filled the kitchen and cornered the dog.
The parsley is vicious. It MUST be stopped.

Wendy: And now it seems that consumers agree. They are telling farmers and the biotech industry that they want the comfort of knowing they are always more hungry than whatever is on their plate.
I'm Wendy Vapors, and I'm reporting.


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