Bitter Harvest (Harvest Trilogy, Book 2)

Bitter Harvest (Harvest Trilogy, Book 2) by Michael R. Hicks Read Free Book Online

Book: Bitter Harvest (Harvest Trilogy, Book 2) by Michael R. Hicks Read Free Book Online
Authors: Michael R. Hicks
Approval Committee, or GEAC, for production of the crops being tested.
    But in several instances (those that had been discovered, Vijay reminded himself), the biotechnology companies had planted test strains of genetically engineered crops without approval or authorization. Organizations concerned about biotechnology applications in the country, particularly after the disastrous experience with genetically engineered cotton, had raised a protest, but their cries had largely fallen upon deaf ears in the government. Far too much money was at stake, and far too much was changing hands. No one could prove it, but Vijay knew it was happening. His boss, for example, met frequently with executives from AnGrow on the side, and boasted a posh residence well beyond his government pay. Vijay was torn: he wanted to have the man investigated for taking bribes, but such a thing would have backlashed against his family. For that reason, and that alone, did he hold his tongue.
    AnGrow had been on his watch list for a long time, of course, ever since he had entered the fold of the EDS and had discovered their connection with New Horizons as the EDS tried to map out the enterprises in which the harvesters might be involved. But try as he might, he could never discover any sinister connections to AnGrow. They appeared to be motivated by nothing more unusual than greed.
    Taking his seat again, Vijay lowered his voice. “Okay, tell me what happened.”
    “I recently took twelve samples from an AnGrow maize test plot outside of Koratikal. When I tested them, three matched the approved test strains. But the other nine did not. I have submitted them for more testing, but I have never seen anything like this, Vijay. Whatever they have planted here, it’s totally new.”
    “It is not a Bt variant?” Bt was short for Bacillus thuringiensis , a bacterium that produced toxins with insecticidal properties, and whose genes were commonly inserted into various commercial plant species to provide them with built-in protection from insect pests. Or so the theory went.
    “No, no. Not at all,” Naresh said. “While the outward structure of the maize is typical, it shows significant differences at the cellular level. The cells you would expect to see are present, but there are also other elements that I haven’t been able to classify. They appear to be protein shells, perhaps, containing what might be some sort of nucleic material. RNA, perhaps? I do not know. All I do know is that it is very, very strange, and should not have been there.” He paused, awaiting a reply. “Vijay? Vijay, are you there?”
    Vijay sat in his chair, immobilized by an icy band of fear that had tightened around his heart. Naresh’s words came back to him, echoing in his mind: They appear to be protein shells, perhaps, containing what might be some sort of nucleic material .  
    While it was conceivable there was another explanation, Naresh’s description was far too close to the RNA delivery system that the harvesters had conceived for the Revolutions line of genetically engineered seed produced by New Horizons. But the RNA it would deliver to anyone or anything that consumed the corn would not cure disease as had been promised. Instead, it would transform the unwitting human or animal into a harvester, as had happened to a hapless rhesus monkey at the EDS base in California. If crops that contained harvester genetic material ever got loose in India, or anywhere else on Earth, mankind could easily face extinction.
    He moved his lips, but no sound came out. After clearing his throat, he said in a shaking voice, “Naresh, has that plot been harvested?”
    “I don’t know. I took the samples last week, but didn’t have time to analyze them until now. But if it hasn’t, it will be soon. It is early in the year, so it is the Rabi harvest, of course. AnGrow claims the plot was planted in mid-October, if one can trust anything they tell us, and the plants were clearly nearing

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