Thursday, December 18, 2008

"Eleventh Hour" depicts evil university/industry cabal in biotech

The CBS show "Eleventh Hour" on Dec. 18 [ Agro, a re-broadcast] depicted biotech work gone bad at the fictional University of California/Fillmore. The "buying" of academic research by industry also came in. Recombinant DNA work involving venom from scorpions was involved.

Dr. Hood [Rufus Sewell] even made a comment about a near IR spectrum.

At the end of the day, the company had tried to do the right thing (destroying the flawed recombinant material) but a small farmer obtained some of it. The academic committed suicide.

Dialog in the show suggested "green food coloring" was a petroleum product, triphenyl methane. In the real world commercial green food coloring is made by combining FD&C Yellow 5 and and FD&C Blue 1. Yellow 5 is tartrazine, C16H9N4Na3O9S2, 1934-21-0, an azo dye, which does comprise two phenyl groups. Blue 1 has formula C37H34N2Na2O9S3 (and is also termed Patent Blue AR) and does comprise a carbon bound to three phenyl groups, but comes from coal tar, not petroleum. Additionally, home fragrance spray was stated to contain formaldehyde and benzoic acid was stated to be in other things.

The show also mentioned red coloring, carmine, derived from cochineal insects.

from a different review:

R. Lee Ermy guest stars here as Bob Henson - a farmer who used organic pesticides on his crops. Pesticides that his son stole from the waste dump where he worked. Pesticides that were dumped there by a giant Agricultural technologies firm, Aeonium, after it was discovered that the scorpion venom they used in it was toxic when combined with food coloring made from insects. Through all of this, we get to learn about the family farms' struggle against giant corporate farms, the greed of global agro-business firms and genetically modified foods.

Elsewhere NBC Nightly News featured Trenton's Terracycle.


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