A Letter of Caution

I remember my grandfather telling stories of how he started this company. Especially the day he made his world changing discovery. It took him a solid year just to get his colleagues to accept his findings and release the results of his work to the public. Initially the idea of mixing vegetable and animal DNA was dismissed as a hoax and my grandfather was labeled a quack. His idea was inspired. For hundreds of years man had been raising domesticated animals in parts of the world where natural vegetation failed to thrive. By taking the genetic parts of animals which allowed them to survive in drought conditions and genetically splicing that trait to vegetables, they were able to create a viable, sustainable and delicious food product.

There was considerable debate and opposition as you may imagine. Religious communities declared the idea blasphemy. Farmers said it would make them destitute. His argument to the religious communities was simply that God placed this knowledge in front of us and he used it. He wasn’t playing God; he was simply using God’s ingredients. Everything about it was natural, no pesticides needed and it grew great without chemical fertilizers. That last part was a huge barrier too. Major companies have lots of money to pay lobbyists and lobbyists are experts at creating problems for new products. A major fertilizer manufacturer declared bankruptcy in the end, effectively putting an end to the capitalist fueled opposition. The government started showing farmers how to change their growing practices. That allowed farms to stay viable. Finally, an independent scientific research facility proved that our vegetables would extend the average human life by about 30 years. So after 75 years of trials, debates and laws, my grandfather’s technologies were finally accepted and this company was formed. Production flew into top gear and soon the entire world was eating our hybrid veggies. Man entered into a new age.

The world’s population flourished. For about 236 years. Our plants were so resistant to insects that the insects began dying. Big deal we thought until birds, who eat the bugs, also started dying out. Non altered trees started disappearing because there were no insects or birds to carry seeds. Oxygen levels started to dip and carbon monoxide levels grew. It was a domino effect on the eco-system. The temperature began to rise and every thing started dying out. Insects, birds, trees, livestock, humans, all started dwindling. Then our rivers and lakes began to shrink. One by one life as we knew it started to fade.

The countries of the world finally had a reason to work together. They had to, and fast. Quick thinking and rapid response saved us from almost total decimation of the planet. Years ago some forward thinking botanists had begun storing every seed known to man in a secret location somewhere in the Antarctic. It was a simple matter of duplicating the virgin seeds and splicing the animal DNA. A Geneva scientist filled in the last piece of the puzzle by discovering a way to turn carbon monoxide back into oxygen, thus rendering trees unnecessary. We were saved. Or so we thought.

History tells us of a sickness called “the flu”. Parents tell their children about it to scare them. It’s an incurable disease that can cause death and is spread by human contact. Supposedly doctors would have to guess how the flu would manifest each year and try to develop medicine to stop its spread. The common cold and the flu were eradicated by a lucky fringe benefit provided by our lovely vegetables.

What my grandfather didn’t know. What he couldn’t have known 250 years ago when he first discovered that animal and vegetable DNA could be spliced together was that the flu was directly tied into animal DNA. Over the years the hybrid plants evolved becoming more animal than vegetable. They began cultivating a rudimentary version of the flu. The flu is a virus and a virus is extremely prolific. Given enough time it adapts in ways that insure survival. My grandfather discovered that bovine DNA proved the most compatible with vegetable DNA and so pigs became the animal of choice when developing our new plants. Pig DNA is close to human DNA and over the course of 250 years the flu jumped species. “Swine Flu”, as it came to be known, quickly turned into a pandemic of epic proportions. The vaccination procedure taken from our ancestors was barbaric. They would infect people with the flu so their immune systems could learn how to fight it. That way when they contracted the virus for real, their body would already know what it needed to do. Unfortunately for us we didn’t have that luxury.

To future generations, if there are any, please learn from our mistake. We thought that we weren’t playing God; we were simply using his ingredients and improving on his designs. We were wrong. Man was never meant to create life. In the end however, we discovered we were very adept at destroying it.