Read Rhae 5 here (see “Similar Posts” at the bottom of this post for any earlier entries)
Round 6 Challenge: Incorporate a White Russian and the words “over the line” into your next passage, which should be no more than 500 words.
The binding and exigent lust for higher profit margins drove biotech firms into a DNA race to monopolize genome sequences. Although the August 28, 2005 kidnapping of a Harvard undergraduate’s golden retriever was conventionally referred to as the launch of the DNA race, the precursory scurry to patent genes had been as contentious.
Biotech lobbyists had fought for these patents, claiming that the funds required for therapeutic and diagnostic genome sequence research necessitated exclusivity guarantees on intellectual property. But as the technologies improved, practically anyone in a university laboratory could extract the extraneous sugars and proteins and render an isolated genome technologically and uniquely viable.
By late 2024, patents on manipulated gene sequences were irrelevant. More important was exclusive access to an individual’s genes. With its economic and political clout, the industry could have easily pushed through legislation to patent unmodified genes. But they knew legal protection was futile. Sampling a gene required only a quick and painless swab; an individual could easily hawk her or his sequence to any biotech company willing to pay.
Thus the kidnappings and murders began, first in Cambridge, then statewide, nationally, and finally internationally. Genomicide – the murder of an individual for exclusive access to her or his genes – replaced terrorism as the primary official U.S. threat to homeland security. This was not out of any genuine security concern since the State Department was staffed and funded by the same biotech industry whose research depended upon the proxy black market genomicidaires; rather, it was the coordinated million-strong protests, picket strikes and mass acts of civil disobedience – the threat of civil war – that forced the government to offer its dissembling and hypocritical condemnation of the genomicidaires.
As the genomicide black market expanded and non-violent protests escalated to looting, arson, and sabotage of government and corporate buildings, a consensus formed that a fresh system for monopolizing human genomes was needed. Biotech companies began constructing “genetration centers,” where individuals with valuable genes could contractually live in ease and luxury in return for exclusive ownership over their genome sequence. The inhabitants’ only obligation was to stay within the perimeter boundary. Anyone who tried to cross over the Line of Genetrification, as detractors called it, faced laser wire, holographic traps, and armed robot guards.
The largest genetration center, which housed every living Teleut, was in Siberia. It was hastily constructed after it was discovered that Teleuts among other Siberians possessed “The White Russian Sequence,” among the most prized genetic strains. The drab center became a rallying point for biotech’s critics, who called it the world’s largest gulagenetration camp.
As these genetration centers mushroomed throughout the 2030s and experimentation with DNA microchips continued at a breakneck pace, researchers at the Silicon Valley-based EvoGrid – a large interconnected network of high performance computers that modeled the pre-biotic chemical environment on Earth – made some troubling findings. They detected evidence of sophisticated self-organizing behavior among certain hyper-computers in tandem with high risks of genetic mutation. Their warning cries, however, went unheard amidst the triumphalist furor for unregulated research initiated by the fusion of corporate and scientific sectors.
Only when the hyper-computers declared war upon their creators did anyone listen. By then it was too late.