By defeating Prime Slime, Dr. Lucio and Brookstone were exonerated from legal responsibility. Dr. Lucio became a hero, representing scientific integrity throughout the world. His lectures and writings were translated into every major language. He was Brookstone’s shining star.
Evo’s charge was to convey the broader meaning and purpose of slime. “Slime is not a disease, but the result of disease. The real disease is the thoughtless exploitation that erodes civility. It is the lack of integrity that attracts slime.”
In a global shift, people took back their health and demanded accountability. Farmers shelved pesticides, and sought organic certification. Healthy, whole food began to dominate grocery shelves. Shoppers looked for the organic label and bought local whenever possible. Community-sponsored agriculture (CSA) grew nationwide. People bought directly from farmers, who were connected to, and accountable for, the food they sold. Evo was the voice behind these changes, along with those who shaped his thinking.
Food shortages and high prices lingered. But organic food gradually became America’s choice, and prices dropped accordingly. It would take years for the land to detoxify, but growers were subsidized to promote organic growth and farm diversity. Organic companies out West and overseas were way ahead of the curve. Imports from Europe, Japan and South America increased steadily.
Philmore Potts championed organic farming. Soil bacteria and earthworms (virmiculture) became part of the common dialogue. Philmore and Nan drew parallels between healthy, living soil and good food, and championed the role of minerals in soil and human health. Dr. Nan Churrel advocated high-quality, top-shelf supplements and challenged physicians to put health first.
Meanwhile a storm was brewing in Washington. Congress commissioned a Grand Jury to investigate why Plan B was not initiated earlier. Had they employed MIFF first, hundreds of billions of dollars would have been saved, and much suffering avoided. Dr. Lucio was summoned to Washington to testify at Senate hearings. He was witness to the wheeling and dealing that thwarted his efforts to stop Prime Slime.
Before leaving New York, Evo was called to Ms. Hardash’s office to discuss the DC trip and other recent events. Were it not for his heroic efforts, Evo might have lost his job and faced prison time. Brookstone brass had little choice but to praise their scientist publicly. Privately, however, Hospital Administration was livid.
All the usual suspects had gathered in Ms. Hardash’s office, including Drs. Ted Honcho and Wendall Wally.
“Let me get this straight”, Minnie Hardash said, as Evo entered. “First you nearly destroy the country, then you violate our commercial interests, and draw negative attention to our hospital.” She turned to the physicians: “What kind of super hero is this?”
Evo was hardly offended. He’d seen it all before. Frankly, he felt sorry for Minnie. She had become a nuisance.
“For one, Hardash, we are heroes, not villains. Secondly, we are in a position to make beaucoup money on MIFF. I have meetings in Washington with companies to commercialize MIFF for multiple applications, mostly for the wrong reasons I may add. But I refuse to let MIFF be just another toxic pesticide.”
“It’s not your place to decide anything, Lucio!” Hardash shouted, as she warmed to the sound of money.
“We can not give in to the worst elements!” Evo stated, as he turned to the physicians. “I say we control the use of MIFF, and not cater to the conglomerates. They will not use it wisely.”
“You’re the one who can’t be trusted!” Hardash shrieked. “We will explore all avenues! Give us those contacts immediately!”
The medical chiefs had already been apprized of the situation and avenues for commercial development. They had also been paying close attention to the news and the national debate. Despite his shortcomings, Dr. Lucio had captured the admiration of the medical staff at Brookstone. They had come to see him as a man of honor and conviction, and were rooting for their crazy scientist.
Dr. Wally witnessed Evo Lucio’s evolution more closely than anyone. For years, Wally did his best to keep a lid on his reckless scientist, and uphold the status quo. Protecting his scientist, and giving him room to play, enabled the discovery of MIFF.
At the same time, Dr. Wally also witnessed the fall of medicine and Big Pharma from its lofty perch. Once the most trusted of professions, medicine had become a slave to industry. People were beginning to see them for what they were. With the tides turning, Wendall Wally seized the opportunity to follow his heart.
“Seems to me our beloved scientist saved the world from ruin, and his successes have vastly improved our business interests. For that, he should be applauded.”
In a swell of passion, Wally continued: “Regarding commercialization, we should consider the ethical consequences seriously. Do we really want to tarnish medicine’s reputation any further? Did we not swear to do no harm?
“Let’s place the future of MIFF in the hands of its champion. Dr. Lucio will do right by us, both financially and ethically.”
Evo smiled affectionately at his old friend and mentor. The final decision was Honcho’s, but Dr. Wally’s opinion meant a lot.
Once Wally’s words set in fully, Evo turned to the man who ran the show at Brookstone. He did not often speak so confidently to the big chief, but, at this defining moment, he looked directly into Honcho’s eyes, and said:
“Chief, I’ve been in medicine twenty-five years, mostly under your directorship. I’ve witnessed the influence of pill pushers and those who prey upon the sick. I’ve controlled my resentment toward privileged physicians and megalomaniacal administrators. I saw medicine lose its perspective for the sake of profit.
“Many young physicians are now taking a different path, and talking to their patients about health and prevention. It’s wonderful to see this change.” He paused to gather his thoughts.
“Chief, it’s not wealth or privilege I resent. It’s lack of responsibility. So many physicians, like Prime Slime, take advantage of weakness. But, only they have the power to lead us back to integrity and health!”
“You’re a jealous wannabe, Lucio, not a real doctor!” Hardash blurted. “You crave power, but have none. What companies do is no concern of yours. Let them smother the world with MIFF; we would be fools to interfere. Those royalties could elevate Brookstone far above our competitors.” There was no mistaking which god she worshipped.
“There is a connection between food and medicine that many physicians ignore,” Dr. Wally countered. “We are exposed daily to hundreds of toxic chemicals. Cancer is now the third leading cause of death among children. That’s just plain wrong!”
“There is no evidence MIFF is toxic,” Hardash said defiantly. “In fact, our so-called expert claims they’re perfectly safe.”
“Yes, if used wisely, they will cause no harm,” Evo exhorted. “But since when has big business ever done that? The big money is in overkill. Big agribusiness and the pharmaceutical industry know this. Ours will be no different. MIFF will be misused and abused!”
“Their loss is our gain. Such is life,” Hardash responded unabashedly. “Brookstone depends heavily on pharmaceutical funding to run our clinical program. We must take full advantage of our fortune. Our competitors would do exactly the same.”
“Sadly, we’ve learned this lesson already with antibiotics,” Wally responded. “We feed them liberally to livestock to promote growth. We dole them out to patients with impunity. As a result, resistance has emerged, and our best drugs are now ineffective. If used prudently, we might have extended their usefulness.”
“That is not how business works,” Hardash argued.
Until then, Ted Honcho had kept quiet, as he weighed the arguments. His decision would be perhaps his most important in 40 years of practice. The Board of Trustees would abide by his verdict. With one word he could change the course of history.
Honcho turned to Evo and spoke softly. “Have you destroyed Prime Slime yet?”
“Yes sir, it is history.”
“There’s an opportunity here to do right, and be seen as healers,” Honcho concluded. “We can control the development of MIFF without selling out.” The Chief smiled warmly at Evo. “You need to get to Washington and let them know our intentions.”
“Thank you, sir. I will do Brookstone proud.” Evo stood tall as Hardash became the incredible shrinking woman. Dr. Wally patted Evo on the back, as he got up to go.
“Kick some serious butt, my man!”
“Thanks for going to bat for me one more time, Chief.”
And so, Evo’s story came full circle. The disquieting summer had presented awesome challenges. But, by transforming himself and his invention, he was prepared for the task. Now poised to embrace a new role, as the most visible of scientists, Evo heeded a higher calling.
Steering the world back to health was a lofty task, but Evo was not alone. Experts from all areas of allied health were renouncing the drug culture: physicians, naturopaths, nutritionists, nurses, pharmacists, chiropractors, dietitians, scientists and health educators alike. They called for tighter regulations on industry, better manufacturing practices, and more eco-friendly products. Integrative physicians were showing up to lead the preventive approach. Meanwhile, organic farmers would guide the transformation of the land. There was a mandate for change.
Leaders and shakers in academia, government and industry convened at the capitol building in Washington for this momentous occasion. The President, cabinet members, chiefs of staff, Congress, and other dignitaries were present. Biotechnology giants representing agriculture and medicine were also accounted for. Greenpeace and other environmental groups came as well. Evo was to present to the world before the highest authorities.
The crowd stood as the President and leaders of Congress were introduced. Evo sat proudly between Nan and Philmore in the front row of the newsroom. Katey sat next to Philmore, with Ayden next to her. It was a black tie affair, in a room full of brass and uniforms. With little fanfare, the Speaker of the House called Dr. Lucio to the microphone. Evo received a standing ovation, as he let go of lingering doubts. When the crowd quieted, he spoke:
“Ladies and gentlemen, it is a privilege to be here this evening, representing the Earth and the good people who mind it. I stand for the citizens of this great nation, who are in need of leadership. This is a dark hour in our history. Our children’s children will suffer for our greed and ignorance.” Evo paused to clean his glasses.
“But, we are not defeated. There is much we can do to reverse our fortunes, and reclaim our health. First and foremost, we come from soil, and must learn to respect the connection between soil and health. Humans are at their best on fertile, living soil.”
The room filled with applause. Evo savored the moment, took a deep breath, and went back to work:
“Prime Slime made it abundantly clear: Organic food is our connection back to living soil, and aligns us with a healthier planet.” Philmore couldn’t have said it better.
When the applause abated, Evo continued: “Science has solved many problems, but it has created others. People are more wary of science than ever, and their fears are warranted. For the sake of profit, we’ve sold our souls. We buy stock in corporations that undermine our health. Government is sold to the highest bidder. Monopolies drive small farmers from their soil, and make us targets for disease and terrorism. They can’t be trusted.” Several officials squirmed in their chairs. He wasn’t exactly preaching to the choir.
Evo challenged healthcare professionals as well. “Unfortunately, physicians have not taken the lead in matters of health. Can you imagine what a difference they could make?”
A tear rolled down Nan’s cheek as she joined in the applause. Evo looked at her lovingly and continued:
“We need men and women in medicine to stand up for what’s right.” It was no secret physicians had lost their bearings.
Evo acknowledged the new age physicians in attendance. “Doctors need to start looking at the whole picture.”
“We need to make nutrition a part of medical school training!”
“Heed the wisdom of naturopaths and nutritionists, who have already embraced these ideas. Let’s get the physicians together with these folks and integrate medicine!”
There was a good feeling in the room. Philmore and Nan were optimistic for the first time in a long while. And, who better to represent than Evo, with a command to unite the world going forward.
“Microbes should not be vilified,” Evo instructed. “They’re everywhere, and a part of us. They’re a part of plants, too. They make life possible.”
In one aspect, Prime Slime was a blessing. It made the improbable happen. It destroyed a crop that was not worth eating, and an industry not worth saving. It opened the world to health and prevention. It taught us the value of soil and our connection to it.
Needless to say, big business would not give up so easily. They wanted the rights to MIFF. Once they got it, they would either abuse it, or shelve it to make room for more profitable drugs. Though it limited his prospects for material success, Evo intended to do what was right.
“Knowledge is a double-edged sword: It can be used beneficially or maliciously. You can be sure MIFF will be used wisely. We won’t resort to business as usual. Money and politics will not rule the day.” The applause ruffled the feathers of a few slimy politicians and industry reps in the audience.
Our greatest enemy is right here at home; just look in the mirror.” That was a hard pill to swallow for many Americans. “Take a good look at what you are supporting on your dinner tables, in your medicine cabinets and stock portfolios.
“Who knows when and where the next pandemic will strike? Maybe next time it will be in humans. Nasty germs leaking from high-containment-level laboratories are not unheard of. The latest smallpox and foot and mouth disease outbreak came from British labs. Ebola and a deadly bird flu strain recently escaped from US labs. Chinese lab workers infected with SARS twice transmitted it to people on the outside. As the human populations grows, and we come in closer contact to exotic animals, and those confined in agricultural operations, pandemics will increase among humans.
“We also need to appreciate those who make our food healthy. Support small farmers and the local marketplace! Demand a living wage for laborers who harvest our crops!”
Philmore Potts could not believe his ears. Agriculture had come to honor the organic label. Regulations were being adopted to restrict GMOs. Stricter oversight would force companies to respect nature and be fully accountable.
Evo ended his presentation by piecing it all together:
“In the end it’s all about integrity, in every phase of human existence: in love, friendship, business and health. Integrity is harmony; it’s how we align ourselves with the universe. It’s a choice, an orientation, marked by love, care and discipline.
“Slime shows us where it is lacking. Slime’s job is to take down the infirm and vulnerable. We’ll all reckon with it someday.
“Societies also grow old, diseased, and break down. Slime brings them down as well. Lack of integrity is our undoing.
“This is not an ethical issue. Biofilms just do their job, right or wrong. They recycle nutrients to provide opportunities for new growth. Slime is necessary–and amazing–if you think about it.
“However, slime in business is a huge problem. It corrupts medicine, agriculture, finance and politics. We can’t go on masking the symptoms. Maximizing short-term gain leads to long-term damage. Inferior food makes for unhealthy, lazy, stupid people. Dwindling nutrient intake has fueled our rapid decline.
“Health is about integrity. It’s in the food we eat, and the soil that creates the food. It’s the love of those who work the soil. It’s a state of wholeness. We must honor this wisdom. Thank you.”
With his days in the lab now over, and a new life blooming, Evo retired into “the last third” of his life. With his share of the MIFF revenue, he bought a small farm adjacent to Nan’s chateau. They raised goats and farmed year-round. Philmore and Katey bought the gardener’s cottage nearby, with a few arable acres. Together, they lived happily amid the hydroponic beds, compost piles, mineral spreaders, and worm castings on the fertile land.