Next week I start a new chapter of my life, my first job. Though I just completed my master’s degree in adolescent education, I don’t think it’s in my plan to utilize this degree in its traditional sense; however, I decided to take this opportunity to return to the sciences. I’m going back to the laboratory to work as a lab tech (I’ll get to use a micropipette and everything.)

This new development has gotten me back into the speculative nature of science fiction writing. To avoid confusion, I do not consider myself to be a hard sci-fi writer. While I ground a lot of the more technical aspects of my work in my own scientific background, I have never found myself drawn to the kinds of sci-fi that prides itself on multi-page essays regarding the physics of light speed travel. More power to you if that’s what you want to write or read about, but it’s not really my cup of tea.

This brings me to a conversation I recently had with a relative. To preface, it’s a double-edged sword being a STEM major in a small town; on one hand, you get to teach your family cool science facts, and on the other hand, you have to have every single statistic with a source memorized with the proper wording to even have a hope of anyone listening to you. In a recent conversation, I had to teach a relative what a genetically modified organism (GMO) was while simultaneously explaining that it’s not necessarily the technology that’s bad, it’s the corporate greed that goes along with it.

Of course, using the phrase corporate greed would’ve stopped the conversation in its tracks, so I had to lead up to that idea using the numerous examples of Monsanto’s notoriously vicious defense of its patents. This isn’t to say that I’m team anti-GMO, far from it. With climate change and other global catastrophes looming on the horizon, we need all the help we can get in modifying our food supply to meet current conditions. Like the FDA says, “The most common GMO crops were developed to address the needs of farmers, but in turn they can help foods become more accessible and affordable for consumers.”

Outside of food, a more recent example of a GMO is Darling 58, an American chestnut variant that’s tolerant to the chestnut blight fungus that demolished most wild American chestnuts. Like most things scientists come up with, GMOs have the potential to benefit every living organism barring their commodification.

I haven’t even gotten to the Flavr Savr tomato, but I’m sure I will in the process of writing my next TikTok series: Plenty of Tomatoes in the Sea. The first episode transcript is below, and the first episode is slated to come out this Wednesday.

I’m going to start by saying I don’t even like tomatoes. Of all the foods you can print, I don’t understand why you’d choose tomatoes. If you want a red food, go for an apple. If you want a juicy fruit, go for a nectarine. In fact, I’d wager that the only thing tomatoes are good for are sauces, and even then, why would you ever choose a tomato-based sauce over something like Alfredo.

Despite this, I’m still quite disturbed by the news we got this weekend. If you haven’t heard—and really, shame on you for not listening to the nightly news—this past weekend, a virus was found in the computer systems at OpilioneCo, and before it was caught, it made its way into the latest, automatic, mandatory software update. Within the past few hours, we got confirmation from OpilioneCo’s PR team that this virus is working to delete the file for tomatoes off of every organic printer sold by the company.

And, now you may be thinking, “why is this a problem?” Well, it is a problem if you like tomatoes because OpilioneCo holds the patent for the only known tomato genome currently in existence. To be fair, none of this was done behind closed doors, I’ve been warning all of you about this for years. Well, myself and the botanical community at large, but now it’s time to face the consequences.

That means no more tomatoes for you or anyone else unless we can cobble together a passable tomato genome that’s compatible with the digital stuff while being unrecognizable to the virus and without getting sued by OpilioneCo. Yay. Lucky us.