Trial by Fiber, Part Two
Note: Previously, I posted the beginning of the court room drama that plays in my head whenever I start to think about my responsibilities to our environment. I see myself as the harried Defendant, Textile Ranger, and the part of the smug and superior Prosecutor goes to actor David Spade. The noble Judge is played by Morgan Freeman. At the end of Act One, I had just accused him of the heinous crime of wearing (gasp) polyester.
Here we go with the second act.
Judge: We are not the ones on trial here. It is you, Ms. Ranger, who must answer these charges of Environmental Contempt. Please proceed, Mr. Prosecuter.
Prosecuting Attorney (PA): Thank you, your honor. Before your unseemly outburst, Ms. Ranger, you were admitting to your awareness of cotton’s position as Most Toxic Crop on the Planet, were you not?
[Jury Foreperson grimaces at her knitting and sets it under her chair.]
Textile Ranger (TR): Yes. But, I’ve been reading a book, Cotton by Stephen Yafa, and he talks for a whole chapter about this new Genetically Modified cotton. It’s supposed to grow without needing as much pesticide and herbicide. Maybe cotton’s toxic days are over!
PA: [tapping his chin thoughtfully] How does it work?
TR: Ahhh, umm, I don’t know. I’m just a simple art major, not a scientist. I read that chapter over and over and just didn’t get it. I’m not sure the author got it.
PA: So how do you know this Genetically Modified cotton is a good thing?
TR: I guess it must be, because 70% of US cotton fields were planted with it by 2002, and they must know what they’re doing?
PA: I’m asking you how you know this is a good thing.
TR: [dejectedly] I don’t. Apparently no one will be sure for years. The author said something about it being “either a giant leap backward for humanity or a pirouette into the abyss, a purveyor of grief or a savior of the downtrodden.”
[audible disruption in the jury box as the jury members consult with each other on the vocabulary words]
PA: And could you paraphrase those fancy words for our jury?
TR: Let me see…it would be something like “Genetically Modified cotton could turn out to be a bad thing, or another bad thing, or still another bad thing, or a good thing.” Also there was something in there about “a treacherous gift, or an invitation to disaster.” Which I think means, “‘two things that sound good but are in effect very very bad.”
PA: [with disbelief] And you read this book all the way through?
TR: Yes. Several times. Does that offset any of the charges against me?
PA: No. Getting back to GM cotton, what else do you know about it?
TR: Well, some of the terms I hear thrown about are “multinational corporation files lawsuit against organic farmers,” “GM-resistant insects mutating,” and “unstable monoculture.” Which, to paraphrase, would be something like “big guy sues little guy”, “the GM cotton’s not working as well as we thought it would”, and “if all the cotton plants are the same, just one unforeseen enemy could destroy the world’s entire crop, and we’ll all go back to woolen underwear.”
PA: [squinting] And is there any way to know if you are buying GM cotton?
PA: But with all your doubts, you continue to buy cotton that may be this Genetically Modified stuff?
TR: I suppose some of my purchases might be GM cotton, but [triumphantly] sometimes I buy organic cotton! I order it online and dye it myself! So there!
PA: Organic, really. Good for you.
[The Defendant preens, visibly proud of herself.]
PA: [turning slowly towards the jury] Tell me, where exactly is this organic cotton grown?
TR: [quickly deflating] Turkey. Uganda. Pakistan. I think only 1% of US cotton is organic and it all gets snapped up by big clothing manufacturers.
PA: So admit it – even though it’s organic cotton, there is another negative environmental effect! And you know it!
TR: All right! You have me! Lots and lots of energy is expended to have it shipped around the world! [sigh] But [perking up a little] demand for organic cotton is increasing, and I’m sure that soon we will have much more if it available right here!
PA: [pacing in front of the jury] Well, let’s hope you’re right, Ms. Ranger. Let’s hope that lots and lots of organic cotton is available right here in the US, and you can purchase all the cuteness you want – guilt-free!
[The Defendant smiles uncertainly, fearing a trap ahead.]
PA: Let’s leave all those old nasty chemicals and unreliable spliced genes aside for a moment. But, isn’t it true that cotton is [spins dramatically toward the stand] the thirstiest crop? [audible gasp from jury] Doesn’t it demand precious water that could be used for food?
[The Defendant pales as the Prosecuting Attorney stalks toward her.]
PA: Does the name Uzbekistan mean anything to you?