Agri-culture: Spader Vs. Cooper on GMO TV

We’ve reached peak saturation in our heated national brawl over genetic modification when two major network prime-time TV dramas stumble into the GMO debate in the space of two weeks. Even better, it features two leading men generally taking opposite sides in the discussion.

On the most definitely pro-GMO side, Bradley Cooper reprises his role as Eddie Morra (now Senator Morra) in the small screen adaptation of the film Limitless. In the premiere season’s sixth episode”Side Effects May Include…” that aired on October 27th, Morra makes an appearance. The Senator is there to convince the newest test subject  of a mind-expanding drug of the importance of their work through other GMO advancements. (h/t Newsbusters)

Finch: There’s rice?

Morra: This rice contains a complete nutritional profile. Everything the human body needs. It can grow in the harshest environments. Places we need it the most. With a little more research, this rice… Could feed the entire world.

Finch: I don’t understand. Why can’t you tell anyone about it? I mean, if that’s true, why aren’t you shouting it from the rooftops?

Morra: Because people won’t want it. I make an announcement. Lobbyists bring it to action. People rave over GMO’s and it’s buried. Science can’t change the world on its own. The world needs to be willing to change. And it takes leaders. Leaders who are willing to chip away at the obstacles, cut through the noise and play the game. And win the game.

Sounds like Cooper is right in line with industry, its almost like he works for…Verdiant Industries. Verdiant is s thinly-veiled stand in for Monsanto in the third episode of the season that aired on October 15th of NBC’s Blacklist. The plot of “Eli Matchet” centers around James Spader as Raymond “Red” Reddington and Red’s quest to take down Verdiant. Apparently the Monsanto pseudonym has been laundering money for the shadowy “cabal” that has become the show’s amorphous villain.

Red: Our journey begins in the home of the double-bacon corn dog. Welcome to Iowa. What do you know about Verdiant Industries, Lizzy?

Liz: Nothing.

Red: They’re the world’s largest agribusiness. They sell seeds. More to the point, genetically engineered seeds. In fact, they’re the single largest manufacturer of genetically engineered seeds on Earth, and not just any seeds. Corn, soy, the crops at the very foundation of our food economy.

Liz: I’ve read about this. Modifying the DNA of the seed itself, teaching it to create a protein that kills common pests that would eat it.

Red: Yes, and those seeds are very expensive. Most small farmers can’t afford them. Many of them have been driven out of business. And when people feel their homes and livelihoods threatened, violence is never far behind. A few days ago, a Verdiant facility was attacked by a group of small farmers who call themselves Los Segadores [ “The Harvesters” ], men determined to kill Verdiant before it kills them.

Liz: Damaging one building will hardly kill Verdiant.

Red: They did more than damage a building, Lizzy. They stole data, a cache of proprietary files detailing how Verdiant modifies its corn genome. That’s a trade secret worth billions of dollars. You and I are gonna take those files from the men who stole them.

In the end, the activists were using planning to use the stolen data to infect genetically modified seeds globally with disease this bringing “humanity to its knees,” or something.

I do find agriculture themes and issues – which are often dense and impenetrable — fascinating when they bleed into popular culture. With Limitless and the Blacklist we see allusions to the debates around Golden Rice and charges of Monsanto’s seed monopoly.

My all time favorite agri-culture mention is in the the first issue of Garth Ennis’s seminal, amazing Preacher comic book series:

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 2.13.45 PM

Come to think of it, the trailer for the new AMC Preacher show, produced by Seth Rogen just aired. #itsallconnected.

Don Carr