The Corn Identity – A Trilogy
The following is a work of fiction. Though much of the information is documented fact certain elements have been fictionalized.
The year is 1977. Newly elected President Jimmy Carter takes the reins of country in the throws of controversy and embarrassment. A good man at heart, Carter is thrust into the corrupt world of national politics. The previous President, Richard Nixon resigned from office after admitting his knowledge in what, in retrospect, was a meaningless act. Watergate.
Looking back now Watergate was, to quote the bard William Shakespeare, much ado about nothing. A harmless misdemeanor that in no way threatened the American way. But the facts are the facts, the President of the United States was a party to a crime. That in and of itself is nothing new. Andrew Jackson defied a Supreme Court order and committed genocide. John and Bobby Kennedy murdered Marilyn Monroe. The difference with Watergate is that there was proof.
Feeling betrayed by Nixon and the Republican Party as a whole the American people elected a no-name Democrat from Plains, Georgia. Carter’s Liberal, almost Socialist leanings were born from a genuine concern. Jimmy Carter cared about people, their lives, their prosperity even their souls. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Chief among his passions Carter stated, “We must have a comprehensive program of national health insurance.” The country did not agree. The American people did not like the government having that much control over their lives. Plus what industry had the US Government ever taken over that did not get immediately worse?
St. Louis, Missouri
The powerful chemical corporation, Monsanto, has just developed a new process for making corn resistant to it’s popular insecticides. They called their process “genetic modification.” The Monsanto scientists had figured out a way to tinker with the genetic make-up of corn by piggy-backing their modified genes with a rare micro-organism known as e coli.
The upside to their innovation would greatly increase corn production which in turn might relieve world hunger. A noble pursuit. This was the goal of the scientists who developed the process. But being scientists they also knew that there could be long term effects of this new corn (called Genetically Modified or GM corn). And that these could potentially be negative, after all this was a brand new science and no one really knew what might happen.
The powers-that-be at Monsanto saw a benefit from genetically modifying seeds, profit. Wild, galactically high, previously unthought of profit margins. Profit would not be measured in tens of thousands of dollars but tens of thousands of percentage increase.
Think about that for a second. For every dollar you spend, you make $10,000. You hand me a C Note and I deposit a cool million into your account. Even Green Peace would club a baby seal for that kind of money.
After some calculations in the Monsanto labs it was becoming obvious that the long rage effects of GM seeds would far out weight its benefits. It was clear more research was needed.
After some calculations in the Monsanto boardroom it is was becoming obvious that if they didn’t move fast someone else might beat them to market. Like in music, you cannot copyright the song writing process but you can copyright the result of that process, the song itself.
That was Monsanto’s plan. Since other AgriBusiness firms and state funded universities were undoubtedly working on a similar process it was too late to trademark the process. So they decided to trademark the product of that process, the seed itself.
This was Monsanto’s first roadblock. The US law forbids trademarking of any living thing, which a seed most certainly is. To circumvent the law Monsanto would rely on a time honored tradition, bribing the Supreme Court.
A few million here and there and the Supreme Court declared that a seed was not a living thing despite the volume of biological evidence to the contrary. Monsanto had its patent. The next step was flooding the market with their Frakencorn.
It was becoming apparent to President Carter that if he wanted to achieve his dream of national health care that he was going to have to dance with the Devil. So Carter began practicing his two-step.
Some chemical company was looking to put this new seed on the market. Being both a farmer and a God fearing man, Carter knew that man cannot improve on God’s work. His own scientists at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had looked at the seed and the process and estimated a trial and research period of 20 years to gauge the effects of this new corn on the human body and the ecology as a whole.
Monsanto balked at the 20 year number. That’s when the backroom doors were bolted shut and began filling with smoke. After some prompting from the White House the scientists agreed that they could have a “good idea” of GM corn’s effects with just 10 years of study. Monsanto presented President Carter with the following scenario:
If our corn is harmless, as we suspect, then you will be responsible for curing world hunger. If it turns out that our corn is somehow harmful to humans then by the time anyone figures it out the damage done would likely be to the point of crisis giving some future President the leverage to pass a national health care system. Either way the people benefit, a classic win-win situation.
When the doors opened and the smoke cleared Monsanto had permission from the FDA to put their new seed on the market not in 20 years or even 10 years but immediately. So without out any testing whatsoever factory farmers began planting GM corn that would be used to make High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), animal feed, hydrogenated corn oil, corn chips, corn starch and even corn on the cob. Zero to 60 in two seconds flat.
Next time, The Corn Supremacy.