Experimental 'seed' tainted

Brian Roe

Brian Roe

ONCE upon a time there was shady inventor keen for a quick dollar. He developed a seed which he sold to a part-time scientist who travelled the countryside yearning to be famous.

In turn he convinced a head farmer that he had something that no other farm in the district would have.

The crop germinated fast because the farmer was provided with good resources by its investors. As it bloomed, the shareholders were beholden to its spectacular beauty and their unquestioned admiration for the head farmer.

The rural media embraced the project, keen to continue good relations into the future ready for the time when record sales and industry awards would become the really big story - and ensure an invitation would arrive for the celebrations.

They visit, photograph and glow over the biggest and most attractive plants day after day.

A rebel investigative writer or two questioned the developments but were brushed aside for all was good for agriculture in general. The potential for new financiers and buyers was obvious and paramount.

The plants were fertilised daily during the growing period and blossomed freely - for plants have no mind of their own to do otherwise.

The regulators were reluctant to undertake analysis of the surprise success as they had no way to explain what it might be.

The head farmer could not assist as he did not oversee the plan so carefully and forgot to keep any records.

His leading hands did not either as they mostly did their own jobs. The farm's part-time agricultural scientist, an old retainer, did not even know there was a new seed being used.

Meanwhile the crops grown by the poorer families in the adjacent fields, neither subsidised or genetically modified, relied on nature's occasional rains and sunlight to survive.

The families protest but they have no money to challenge the big operators. They are forced to operate only within the existing procedures and their crops are tested regularly to make sure they have only the most basic nutrients.

They must also be of international export quality.

Occasionally there is a little spare cash available for some supplementary fertiliser but the only ones that can be used are those on the list already approved by the authorities.

To make sure only these products are used some of these plants are checked at least one morning every week to make sure they are not growing too quickly or becoming unusually large.

Someone suggested that the rich and poor farms should be treated the same way. While some thought that this was a silly idea, others thought they saw dark storms on the horizon that could destroy everything.

Because the head farmer did not understand that he was responsible to keep records of his project, he was sent away for some study about these matters.

The poor farmers just scratched their heads because they always knew about these things.

Unfortunately some of their plants close to the fence line were caught in the spray from the big farm. After these plants were checked it was decided that these areas of the poor farms could not be used for the next two years.

To balance the situation it was decided that it would be better for the crops from the rich farm to be kept away from the market in the first year.

But maybe in the second it will be alright even though the other farmers are very angry.

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