Date: Wed, 11 Jun 1997 13:07:10 -0700
From: scott figgins <figgins@dnai.com>
To: Multiple recipients:;@dnai.com
Subject: MSIE-3 Contamination Scare

STTF World Wide Wire Service
9 June 1997
DATELINE--Central Valley, Calif.


Researchers from the University of Tennessee have identified a fungal agent
that may soon threaten the stability of the global economy.

The virus-like mold known only as "MSIE-3," short for Mildew Sporozite
Invasive Exotic type 3, was apparently first introduced into the United
States in 1993 by a shipment of laptop computers manufactured in Singapore.

The newly identified MSIE-3 mold is the only organism known to man capable
of breaking down the coating used to seal computer microchips. The
voracious mildew apparently uses a unique enzyme to reduce computer
components into a "silicon soup." The fungus can literally melt down a
computer, from the inside out, in less than 24 hours.

In San Jose, Calif., where the majority of the nation's microchips are
designed before being mass-produced in Southeast Asian factories, the
MSIE-3 fungus has already closed down three labs and seriously compromised
the operations of over 140 computer companies.

Even after the UT report on MSIE-3 was published earlier this week, neither
public nor private parties have officially acknowledged the presence of a
Invasive Exotic in the computer world.


Invasive Exotics, or I.E.'s as they are known in the world of horticulture,
are nothing new in America. First introduced by the successive waves of
immigrants who colonized this continent, I.E.'s like the Kudzu plant have
already destroyed entire sectors of the nation's agricultural base. But
before the recent discovery of Mildew Sporozite type 3 no species of I.E.
was known to target strictly synthetic environments.

"Unlike the sometimes useful Bamboo tree, this mildew I.E. is only
destructive," said Dr. Adele Fertihumis, one of the UT scientists credited
with identifying MSIE-3," and there is nothing that can be done about
it...but prevent it from spreading like a chemical wildfire."

There is still no consensus on how the computer-hungry mold should be
contained, and industry analysts worry that time is running out. According
to the UT report, if the current growth rate of MSIE-3 is left unchecked,
every computer in North America will have been dissolved into oblivion by
the 1998.


In Silicon Valley, Calif., the threat of biological warfare has caught an
entire industry off guard. With the exception of the occasional earthquake
or a random monsoon in the Far East, few natural disasters have ever
threatened the artificial growth of the computer industry. But the sterile
world of Silicon Valley will not have far to turn to find assistance in
fighting its fungal adversary: less than a two hour drive from the cubicles
of San Jose are the fabled farming rows of the Central Valley.

The expansive Central Valley of California is the single greatest food
source in the Western U.S., employing hundreds of thousands of migrant
farmworkers each year to harvest everything from strawberries to pistachio
nuts--often under torturous conditions. Though largely overshadowed by the
stunning economic growth of the computer industry, California's
agribusiness may now hold the key to eradicating the cataclysmic MSIE-3

Representatives from Silicon Valley have already met with engineers
representing some of the largest farms in the Golden State. Both sides hope
that their collaboration will yield a solution to the latest Invasive
Exotic epidemic while strengthening the alliance between the agricultural
and computer industries. And the first task on their agenda is tracing the
ecological origins of the MSIE-3 fungus.


Unfortunately, the detective work ahead of the MSIE-3 task force may be too
great a challenge for the team's agricultural engineers and venture
capitalists. According to Dr. Fertihumis, "the history of I.E.'s is too
tangled a web in which to isolate a single species, no matter how noxious."

Horticulturists like Dr. Fertihumis warn that before the computer industry
can even begin to explore its options for dealing with MSIE-3, it will have
to confront the legacy of previous Invasive Exotics--possibly including the
computer, itself, as an I.E.

"The history of Invasive Exotics includes all sorts of economic disasters,"
relates Dr. Fertihumis, "sugar refineries in the Caribbean, cotton
plantations in the American South, coffee harvesting in South America--each
and every one of these monocultures led to the ultimate decimation of
native life, both plant and human. Not to mention the reckless introduction
of foreign life into the environment: African slaves as well as other
beasts of burden and pleasure."

Indeed, the MSIE-3 mold is thought to have originated in Singapore, where
American economic standards and values have been adopted alongside feudal
social codes. Imports from other countries similarly compromised by
admixtures of American culture and local customs could very well become the
MSIE-3's of tomorrow.

Asia, Latin America, Africa, Europe: there is not a single continent in
which the U.S. has not intervened with its culture and upon which it does
not now depend for cheap consumer goods--each and every one potentially
incubating an Invasive Exotic.

The age of the plagues is upon us.

Copyright South to the Future (STTF) 1997


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