Amber Waves Revisited

As I said, when I posted “Amber Waves”, I planned to expand on the story with my reason for writing it.  The truth of the matter is that I am very much against scientist/businesses/man playing with genetics.  Why?

Politics, Greed, Hubris, Asbestos, Radioactive Paint for Illuminated Watch Dials, Wallstreet meltdown of 2008,  S&L Bailout, financial bubbles, the great depression, World War II, World War I, Hitler, the Holocaust, Inquisitions, Salem Witch Hunts, Enron, Tyco, torture, radical religions, Catholic Priest molestation and cover up, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukushima Daiichi, racism, poverty, gap between rich and poor, gun violence, mass murders, cults, nuclear waste, pollution, endangered species, kings and queens, fossil fuels, corporate theft, Thomas Edison (thief of movies), slavery, economic slavery, sweat shops, nuclear weapons, weapons of mass destruction, chemical weapons, napalm, agent orange, American Civil War, hunger, healthcare for profit, food recalls in time and not, corporate news, money equals speech, police arrest quotas, drug war, drug addiction, pedophiles, abusers, alcoholics, bribery, corruption, murder, saber rattling, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, 9/11/2001, terrorism, imperialism, colonialism, Apartheid, gulags, Communism, Stalin, Pol Pot, Flint Michigan, Love Canal, Tennessee Water Authority, insider trading, lobbyists, Cuban Missile Crisis, President Reagan, President G.W. Bush, President Bill Clinton, Senator Hillary Clinton, President Trump, Newt Gingrich, Iran-Contra Affair, White Water, Watergate, McCarthyism, black listing, blackmail, hate crimes, oppression, company stores, trash, elitism, oligarchy, robber barons, rape, incest, over population, genocide, world domination, dictators, short term thinking, etc.

I could go on and on but the facts boil down to one undeniable truth, man is nowhere near wise enough to comprehend all the possible outcomes of manipulating the complex workings of DNA.  When we discovered materials that were radioactive, we thought they were safe. Ask the women that painted watch dials with radioactive paint so they would glow in the dark if it was safe.  We thought Asbestos was a wonder product, ask those that died from the cancer it produced if they think we are wise.  If we know so much about our bodies that we feel messing with our DNA is wise, how come we have such a thing as an Opioid epidemic? Why don’t we truly understand cancer and aids?  The truth is that we still do not understand the basics completely enough to play with DNA, let alone chaos theory and its wide reaching tendrils into the workings of our universe.  Then add to all this our continued failings as moral beings.  This is why I believe we should not mess with Genetics, Nuclear Fusion, or Artificial Intelligence.  Not because any of these are inherently evil but that we have shown neither the capacity or the will to tackle these sciences with the care that is needed, just look at our history of repeating mistakes.

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Amber Waves (from my Patreon page)

This was my entry for a old flash fiction contest on SFFworld with the theme being “torrential”.  I am posting it here as part of a discussion I plan to post about later.  It also gives you some idea of my writing style although this is a much older tale that I currently do not plan to place in Mystics and Misfits.  One thing to note here, I wrote this story back in 2008.

Amber Waves 

by Robert Garbin

The interview was being held in the corner of the busiest bakery in New York City.  David Attel reporting for Baker’s Secret, a British pastry magazine, was asking the three time winner of the bread making championships, Andre Stephenson, the secret of his success.

“Everyone always wants to know what makes Americans the dominant bakers in the world” Andre snorted.  “You know, four hundred years ago, American baking was considered only less dubious then American cuisine.  We were thought of as crash, tasteless, and immature.”

“Why was that?” David said.

“Because we were, we had lowered our standards so far with mass produced additive loaded crap that our insides were caked with it.  For God’s sake, Hot Pockets were one of the best selling items in every supermarket.”

“So what happened to change all of this?”

“One more idiot.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’m sure you noticed the strict screening measures at the airport and the fact that you can bring very little with you.  Most everything you need will be provided for you while you are in country, but, unless you have lots of time to wait to bring anything out, everything stays here.  About four hundred years ago, before the genetic manipulation bans, some bright eyed idiot with the dubious financial backing of a fortune 500 company thought he could make a higher yielding wheat crop.  This was around the time when every Tom, Dick, and Harry scientist felt that there was no danger in playing God.”

“I heard about the story in my history class, but I don’t see the connection here.”

“Well, first off, you don’t live in a country that had to rebuild its economy from scratch while battling the effects of a disastrous mistake.  Second, we solved the problem by making lemons into lemonade.”

“I don’t understand!”

“Well the story goes like this.  Some big corporation out to increase profit by cornering the wheat market found themselves a genetic engineer who thought he could make a few genetic alterations to wheat to increase yield and shorten the growth cycle.  If they could get more wheat to market faster than the other guy, everyone would switch to their product.  Maybe the engineer wasn’t a total idiot and maybe meant things for the best, but we are still living with the results.”

“From there, you have to understand how business worked back then.  Basically, the almighty dollar was all that mattered.  Companies constantly flirted with disaster in order to maximize profit.  Look at the oil industry for example.  They constantly told people what they wanted to hear about safety so that congress would allow them to do what they wanted.  But when it came time to actually implement the promised measures they cried that the share holder dividends would suffer, or worse, they turned a blind eye.  That was how the Exxon Valdez happened.”

“What people always forgot was that companies were all about maximum profit and many people equated that with intelligence.  Experience should have taught them otherwise.  How many times did the banking industry have to implode before they figured out that not having strongly enforced regulations was letting idiots and con-artists stick them with the bill?”

“Anyway, back to the point.  In their rush to get the product to market, they pressured the engineer to cut corners to save a few million dollars.  Some safety protocols were skipped and some congressmen’s hands were greased and the wheat was approved for distribution.  Initially, the crops were a great success.  There was a twenty percent increase in yield and as a bonus; the farmers got two full crops in one season.  That was when the problems began.”

“The following year the farmers brought in three full crops, then four the next.  When some tried to put in different crops for rotation, they found the wheat choked out the other crops.  Soon the government had to declare a state of emergency because wheat was turning up outside of the farms.  They first attempted to burn the crops out, but that only made the problem worse.  Some of the seeds were resistant enough to survive the fires and rode the winds further a field.  The only thing that saved the rest of the world was the last line of protocols that held the wheat on American soil for five years of testing.  By that point, the country was under strict quarantine.”

“Believe it or not, the Government was close to setting off nuclear bombs in the heartland.  That is when the country drew a line.  We instituted strict quarantine laws that almost destroyed our economy, but that was better than wiping out a third of our country.  Then we set about dealing with the massive amounts of wheat we had.  We baked our hearts out day and night.  Soon we became the foremost bakers of breads and pastries in the world.  Today one hundred percent of all wheat flour based baking comes from America.  Of course, the product is thoroughly tested to make sure no live genetic material leaves the country.  Also, we did eventually manage to contain the crops to the Midwest, but we have to be constantly on guard against mutations that could start the whole cycle again.”

“So, finally, we come to the reason that Americans have dominated the baking arena for the past three hundred years.  It’s simple really, we had to.  We had to find something to do with all the abundant wheat.”