Posted on Wed, October 21, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
1 Comments | Categories: Biodiversity, Contaminated Food, Farms and Farming, Film/TV/Radio, News, Current Events,
Setting the scene: young woman and her beau dining out. Later, woman dies of unknown poisoning. Suspect: boyfriend - until its discovered that she contracted an über-deadly new strain of e-coli. Did it come from the restaurant? No! the chef explains, bitterly. She runs a tight ship: it had to have come in from the fields.
Sound like the latest in a string of headlines? Nope, its the story line from the most recent episode of CSI: Miami titled Bad Seed. Yes, Im a sucker for cheesy crime shows, David Caruso one-liners and overt Miami sexiness. I never thought Id see overlap between my own passions and day job, with the CSI franchise, but its telling, I think, of how our movement has managed to get our messages across to the wider American audience. Baby weve made it to primetime! In a way.
Warning: If youre intending to watch the episode Im totally going to give away the ending here!
How so? The episode was complete with shots of corn and tomato monocrops and undocumented farmworkers who work for one of many organic growers contracted by a mega-firm known as Dickson Organics. It just so happens that one of these farmers has an irrigation well where the e-coli contamination seemed to originate from, which of course lies just downhill from a huge cattle compound.
Case closed, right? Fine the farmer for negligent homicide? Well, in another plot twist, the original victims boyfriend has himself suffered from a poisoning, leaving him brain-dead and paralyzed. Turns out that this farmer has become the victim of drift from his neighbors, and water contamination from another, as he explains to the CSI team. Dickson Organics is going after his land and livelihood because they discovered genetic markers from their patented corn on his land.
In an effort to support this farmers fight against a likely lawsuit, the CSI team tracks down the GMO corn genetics. What they find is a bacterial gene has been fixed to the corn in order to better break down cellulose, and in turn allows people to more easily digest corn products. A seemingly beneficial quality of GMO corn, yeah? Except the bacteria is directly related to the bacterial strain that causes botulism and paralysis and the Dickson Organics CEO knew about it.
Watching a CSI: Miami episode where the terms GMO, veggie libel laws, drift and farm-worker plight abound, and in which the CEOs last name is Mackey (no need for me to draw a parallel Im assuming, and no intention of mine to bring his name into the debate) was dream-like. The killer moment for me is Mr. Mackeys diatribe: You think farming is mom and pop with a pitchfork?! Its big business. You gotta take risks. He goes on to say If we used only natural farming methods, prices would be astronomical and people would starve! People dont care where their food comes from! Those two deaths resulting from our current industrial ag model in order to feed millions are totally worth such risk, is clearly his gist.
See you in court says Lt. Horatio Cane. Yeah baby! The episode ends with a agriculture montage complete with one CSI tending to her community garden plot. It was also the episode in which the sexiest CSI character chose to leave the team and the show. I’m telling ya TV made in heaven. Dont judge.