CSI Miami-Bad Seed
The Corn Belt is not exactly rising up against CBS, but that “Bad Seed” episode on CSI Miami still has rural America talking.
Writing in the Des Moines Register, business and farm reporters Philip Braser and Dan Piller pointed their readers to Iowa farmer Tim Burrack as an example of someone who was not happy with the show.
“In the show,” reports the DMR writing duo, “the villain was genetically engineered corn, which, when fed to cows, produced deadly botulism.”
“Horatio Caine and his hip lab team at CSI cracked the case, all within an hour. Of course, the president of the food conglomerate was the target of Horatio’s scorn.”
But genetically modified foods have never so much as caused anyone to sneeze and portrayal of corn farmers on the Oct. 19th episode of CSI Miami amounts to a vicious attack.
So says Burrack on his Truth About Trade & Technology website.
CSI’s portrayal of deadly foodborne illness is coming in for a severe thrashing in the Corn Belt, but not for it just being unrealistic.
The program centered on how two people who dined together died, one from a fast-moving E. coli infection, and the other from botulism.
Food Safety News panned the program in part over the impossibility that two diners at the same restaurant would die from two different diseases. It was more than reasonable that E. coli-contaminated lettuce, irrigated with well water that was contaminated with surface runoff from a nearby feedlot, made for a realistic plot.
The genetically modified corn spreading botulism seemed more of a reach, but that part of the program has corn farmers across America hopping mad.
“I am responding because I AM a famer,” Burrack says. “I am a businessman. I own my own land and work for no one else. I work very hard every day to produce healthy, high quality food for my family and consumers around the world.”
In “Bad Seed,” both the poor watering practices and genetically modified corn are the responsibilities of a company called Bixton Organic Foods. It does paint the Bixton CEO Jerry Mackey as the villain. And, the character’s name is “strikingly similar to John Mackey, head of Whole Foods,” Burrack points out.
In the episode Mackey tells CSI’s Horatio Caine that genetically modified corn is worth it “if one man’s death means 500 get fed, I’ll take those odds.”
“He’ll take those odds? They’re completely and utterly unacceptable. I don’t know anybody who farms, let alone anybody in the entire food industry, who would accept this rational,” says Burrack. “John Mackey of Whole Foods certainly wouldn’t.”
“Suggesting that such a person exists–and that he symbolizes those of us who devote our lives to producing safe and healthy food–is a smear,” he adds.
Burrack is a corn and soybean farmer.
With the possible exception of raw milk, there is nothing about food that generates more comment or controversy than genetic modification, or GM.
Comments on the story to the Des Moines Register would divide roughly into thirds. One-third fear GM foods. One third wrote about the safety and need for GM. And, one third said–it’s just a TV show!
GM means taking a gene from one plant, animal or microorganism and inserting it into the DNA of another.
By some estimates, 70 percent of the food on grocery shelves has at least one GM ingredient.
The European Union (EU) requires labeling of products containing GM ingredients.
Bixton Organic Foods could not have sold their GM corn under an organic label because the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits GM ingredients in certified organic foods.
CSI Miami-Bad Seed