We were in Epcot, clowning around and trying out new things. Lena and I had gotten the Florida Resident season passes for Disneyworld and were burning them up. It was great. We knew we could come back any time we wanted—the only times “blacked out” by the pass were times we certainly would not have wanted to go anyway—so we decided to spend a couple of days doing all the goofy little things that you always skip because you’re worried you won’t have enough time. At one point we even participated in a product assessment panel for a new long-distance service where we pretended to be an adulterous couple cheating on our respective spouses. The payment was limited to $50 per household and by pretending to be from different households we made twice as much.
Anyway we wandered into the half of Innovations which is all about displaying the technological wizardry of Disney’s corporate sponsors. (Makes me wonder what the display would be like if Disney received a sponsorship from say, a trucking company. “We drive only the most average of vehicles on today’s roads, but some of our drivers carry very advanced cell phones!”) Therein, we found a large area dedicated to Monsanto.
Monsanto is the company leading the charge to bring genetically modified foods to the world’s table. “Frankenfoods,” some have called them. I personally believe that given a legitimate regimen of safety testing and responsible science, GMOs could be a genuine god-send to us. Unfortunately, Monsanto (allegedly) doesn’t seem too interested in safety or responsibility. (You’re going to see “allegedly” a lot in the next paragraph. That’s because Monsanto also (allegedly) really likes to sue people who have anything negative to say about them.) They have (allegedly) buried tests, (allegedly) changed the testing period to just under when they knew their products would become harmful, and (allegedly) placed products on the market they knew would be recalled, because they could make huge sums before it happened. That doesn’t even begin to encompass their (alleged) shenanigans against farmers and the media. As a company, they’re (allegedly) the devil.
And so we walked into Monsanto’s bright yellow floor displays showing new farming techniques, maps illustrating GMO’s overcoming areas of hunger around the world, and…bugs. Now Lena loves bugs. She thinks they’re cute. I don’t understand it, but I’m never at a complete loss for a gift if I can find something that looks vaguely bug-like. So to the bugs we went.
Before too long some blandly attractive girl in a yellow Monsanto shirt comes walking by and asks if we would like to learn about Monsanto’s new kinds of potatoes. We agree, and she brings us to two standing glass enclosures each containing both potatoes, and potato bugs.
“In the first enclosure, as you can plainly see, the potato bugs have destroyed the potato plant.”
“Yay! Happy bugs!” exclaims Lena.
“In the second enclosure, is Monsanto’s new potato plant, impervious to the potato bugs.”
“But…what do they eat?”
“Excuse me?” asked the yellow-shirted girl, unaware of the change in the air.
“There’s nothing in that case except a plant they can’t eat. You’re not letting them starve in there are you?”
From the point the girl first began to speak, a small crowd begins to form. People begin to amble over, apparently interested in either potatoes, or suddenly concerned with the fate of the bugs.
“I…I don’t know. I’m not sure who…”
“Look at that!” said Lena loudly, pointing to the bottom of the enclosure. Necks craned. “Look at all the dead ones! You’re just letting them die in there!”
“The, uh, the Monsanto plant…” the bewildered girl gamely tried to start again…
Now a new voice from the crowd spoke up. An older man in a straw hat and a blue Mickey Mouse shirt. Hey, why won’t them bugs eat that potater? What’s wrong with it?”
“Nothing is wrong with it. This potato is the product of Monsanto’s effort to feed people around the worl…”
“Wait a minute.” interrupted Lena. “That potato bug would rather starve himself to death than touch that plant and you want to feed it to people? How stupid do we have to be to eat that?”
The yellow-shirted girl looked helplessly at the grinning people around her, and at my clearly demonically possessed wife. She politely excused herself and suggested that people wanting to learn more about Monsanto reference their website. I thought to myself that might have been good advice for her as well.
The man in the straw hat and the blue Mickey Mouse shirt walked over to the Monsanto plant and peered intently through the glass.
“Smart bugs.” he said.