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Conspiracy ideas in pharmaceutical or Agriculture

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I have a story idea, but I need a good conspiracy to be hidden by the villain and uncovered by MC. It has to be a field where people would be doing research. I'm thinking something in big pharmaceutical or big agriculture. I want it to be something that is two sided. On one hand it has the potential to bless the lives of many, but also ruin the lives of others, so it's not just a simple fix. I've thought about something with vaccines or pesticides, but that seems overdone.  I've considered GMO's as some agent's/editors have mentioned that, but then I worry that by the time I finish this those will be overdone, haha. I can work with all of these if need be, but I was wondering if any of you had any other ideas? Help! 
#1 - December 20, 2012, 09:28 PM
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Could be something like a medication that has been developed but big pharma is holding it back because selling it would mean huge profit loss ie because they make their money via other less effective long-term meds? Am fairly sure this does happen. I know of at least one drug that isn't available in Europe or the US because the company that has the patent can't make enough money for them elsewhere. That's not as villainous as the example I gave but it makes you realise how money driven these things are.
#2 - December 21, 2012, 05:20 AM

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I understand your concern that once you've written it the topic could be overdone, but I think genetically modified crops are ideal for a conspiracy. And I'd love to read a story about it! Nano technology might be kind of interesting--e.g., sold as awesome medical technology, but they're really turning people into robot slaves!  :)
#3 - December 21, 2012, 06:49 AM
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How about alternate feeds for cows who produce organic milk?  Some farms have switched from corn and hay to kelp. I don't know much about this, but it seems to me in the search for a cheep 'organic' feed there could be issues.
#4 - December 21, 2012, 07:16 AM
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I don't have a specific suggestion, just wanted to say -- IMO, you should find yourself an expert in whichever field and get them to suggest something plausible, including agreeing to read the ms when you're done to vette it. For this kind of thing to work, it needs to be, virtually, real -- and that means you're going to need better experts than we might have here... though we may well have someone in a day job who qualifies. :)

#5 - December 21, 2012, 09:56 AM
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Pharmaceutical:

-There could be an important drug that requires an ingredient mired in corruption. For example, say the drug cures a terrible disease and helps many people, but the drug maker can only get the active ingredient from a country where the people who farm it are mistreated, or enslaved, etc. Or getting the active ingredient leads to the decline of an endangered species. Or you can do something even more sinister, depending on the style of your story -- the active ingredient may be extracted from humans who go through a grueling procedure to extract it, but that is the only way they can get the money to provide for their families.

-The drug could be a wonder-drug for most people, but have a terrible, down-the-road side effect for a very small segment of the people who take it, that they are not publicizing because people won't want the drug.


#6 - December 21, 2012, 11:37 AM

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One issue these days is that negative test results in drug development are sometimes concealed from the public (or remain unknown due to publication bias).  That is, some big companies only publish positive results for their big new money-making drugs.  You could have a miracle drug that is curing a disease, but has negative side effects that have been dismissed or downplayed by the manufacturers, who (in your book) sincerely believe that the benefits of the drug outweigh its liabilities.  Here's a TED talk about it:

http://www.ted.com/talks/ben_goldacre_what_doctors_don_t_know_about_the_drugs_they_prescribe.html

Several issues named here (and both sides discussed):

http://www.ted.com/talks/thomas_pogge_medicine_for_the_99_percent.html
#7 - December 21, 2012, 12:36 PM
« Last Edit: December 21, 2012, 12:55 PM by Betsy »
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Agriculture - you will need an expert on this, but some chemicals are now banned because of the long term effect on soils, water table, etc. 

Someone may have discovered a "great new pest controlling spray that appears as if it may be as close as you can get to organic (most organic places use some sort of sprays that are of natural bug repellents) and in the end the company is covering up a fact that it is bad for either animals/humans, while it does not seem to affect the soil or water. 

I know nothing about chemistry beyond my first year chemistry class in college and that was soooo long ago.
#8 - December 21, 2012, 01:36 PM
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Thanks for the ideas everyone! These are all great and things I will look into more.

 I agree I am going to need to do some research. (Although asking an expert to read my ms scares little newbie unpublished me to death!) So another question for you guys. I started looking up information about organic farming and GMO's and there is a lot of real-life stuff there to center a conspiracy around. Like I wouldn't have to use much imagination for it. 

So my nest question is, how much do I have to change? Names and places obviously. But can I keep the bulk of the events, the stories of the scientists speaking out and being silenced the same?

#9 - December 21, 2012, 03:30 PM
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Pharmaceutical:

-There could be an important drug that requires an ingredient mired in corruption. For example, say the drug cures a terrible disease and helps many people, but the drug maker can only get the active ingredient from a country where the people who farm it are mistreated, or enslaved, etc. Or getting the active ingredient leads to the decline of an endangered species. Or you can do something even more sinister, depending on the style of your story -- the active ingredient may be extracted from humans who go through a grueling procedure to extract it, but that is the only way they can get the money to provide for their families.

-The drug could be a wonder-drug for most people, but have a terrible, down-the-road side effect for a very small segment of the people who take it, that they are not publicizing because people won't want the drug.




This made me think of something I can envision at some point - human breast milk sold as a health food for adults. Also, vernix, the waxy stuff that babies are covered in to protect their skin in the womb... sold as anti-aging cream for very rich horrible old ladies!
#10 - December 21, 2012, 03:31 PM

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Pharmaceutical - just to bring up a very sad topic: compound pharmacies.  The company that mixed the (steriod?) shots that gave so many people meningitis. 

Compound pharmacists normally mix up mixtures for one to ten people at a time, however the law is written in such a way that makes it possible for a small company to mix up entire batches of a medicine that can be sent to another company and sold throughout the US. 

At one time I had to have a particular medication mixed by a compound pharmacist, these are rare breeds of pharmacist and I lived in a large town at the time and was limited to one pharmacist. 

So, you could in one sense, make the compounding company, legal under the law that stands, make up a medication that they know will be going out across a wide area of the country that will make people sick with some disease that will require another compound medication, thus trying to make double the money before people associate the illness with their company.

If their is a compound pharmacist in your area, all you need to do is interview him/her about this law and what their job is and how companies can also do what happened in the spread of meningitis. 
#11 - December 23, 2012, 01:19 PM
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Is it MG or YA?
#12 - December 23, 2012, 01:21 PM
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One thing to keep in mind is that quite a lot of the pharmaceutical industry is actually state regulated (if you're setting your story in the US). Someone above mentioned compounding - the regulations that cover compounding versus manufacturing versus when are you creating a new "designer" drug are state, not federal. So a plausible story might vary by location.

A pharmacist that works with compounding or mail order is probably licensed in numerous states and familiar with the regulations in each area.
#13 - December 23, 2012, 03:27 PM

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Actually the reason the shots were so widely distributed, had to do with the fact that they were distributed by legitimate pharmaceutical company, but were made by a compounding company that was legal under the US Drug law, now I am not sure which state, if any limit these companies.  Which is why I suggested talking to a compounding pharmacist.  They will no the local state laws. The meningitis was wide spread in multi-states.

You could also have a nasty pharmacist.   :muahaha:
#14 - December 23, 2012, 03:54 PM
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A small company is researching a way for a GMO apple that does not
turn brown when you cut it. this has th epotential to help thousands of people,
somehow, because apples cut in pieces can then be marketed, and they'll look nice.
But the big greedy profitable organic industry is strying to STOP the new apple, claiming it will
affect all the other organic apples through cross pollination. This is happening right now, although
I don't know if the bad guy is the GMO apple, or the organic farmers.

Another idea based on a true story:
A researcher at U of California in Berkeley discovers an amazing thing - a major pest of cotton
growers that causes $millions of dollars in damage, and requires tons and tons of pesticides
to control it, which end up in groundwater supplies, affects the health of farmworkers, and is
just bad for the environment - this major pest can be controlled by 'good bugs' like ladybugs
or small spiders or lacewings, if the farmers would stop indiscriminate spraying for another pest of cotton. If farmers would go partly organic, and accept a small amount of damage from the first pest, the second pest would be controlled naturally, by good bugs, which aren't killed off by the sprays.  This amazing research is covered up by everyone involved in the pesticide industry, including other researchers at the University of California. This actually happened, and Robert Vanden Bosch wrote a book about it called 'The Pesticide Conspiracy.'
#15 - February 11, 2013, 03:25 AM

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I think this you have a great idea. I suffer from a food allergy that's auto-immune related. There's a lot of auto-immune diseases (like Crohns, and celiac disease) on the rise as is autism and food allergies in general. I know some kids that are allergic to just about everything. This is an industrial world problem. The developing world doesn't suffer from these things like we do...yet.

Of course conspiracy theories abound. There's the modification and hybridization of plants of course (GMOs would fit right in). The wheat and other foods we eat are very different now from what our ancestors ate.

There's also the overuse of antibiotics not just medically but in our food supply particularly in meat. Try this site http://www.facebook.com/CitizensAgainstSuperbugs if you want one side of the story. There's definitely something going on with all the increases in gut-related diseases and people with food allergies are worried about the GMOs.

Those who are allergic to eggs can't get the flu shot because of how the vaccine is incubated. So the idea of cross breeding plants opens up a Pandora's box for people who already have food sensitivities. It's been a boon for the allergy-free market though. I spend nearly six bucks for a tiny loaf of gluten-free bread--it certainly looks conspiratorial to me at the checkout  ::-)

I think your idea is timely. I mean it's happened so many times before. Agent orange was actually started as an agricultural method to boost the growth of plants, but was later used of course, by the military to deforest the Vietnam jungle with its very nasty consequences on the human population.

Another incident in history was Fritz Haber who received a Nobel for his work with ammonia as it relates to fertilizer in farming. It revolutionized farming for years, but it turned ugly in WWI when he used his knowledge for farming to killing--he's known as the father of chemical warfare--thanks to him, thousands of people were benefited through increased food production and later destroyed by the same mind and methods. The story of his wife, also a scientist, is very sad as well.

Check out food allergy related sites as well for conspiracy ideas on the current food production. Try things for celiac disease, crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, even autism has been hit with a lot of research lately about links between modern methods of food production and how its affecting children. Good luck.

#16 - March 05, 2013, 10:29 AM
« Last Edit: March 05, 2013, 12:26 PM by J.Swan »
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There is a legal case that has been going on for several years in my hometown of Bakersfield.  A big-land owning, successful farmer allowed a well-known oil company to drill on a portion of his property.  The land was seriously polluted (in the water table I think) and can no longer be used for farming. The farmer and oil company have been battling for many years.  It seems to be pretty commonly accepted in the media that the oil company knew perfectly well they were engaging in unlawful practices and knew what the result would be.  The lawsuit seems to be about the conspiracy aspect of the oil company.  I don't recall the farmer's name.  If it pops up in the news again (it's going to trial soon) I'll PM you. 
Fracking is also a huge issue in towns with both ag and oil. 
#17 - March 05, 2013, 06:17 PM
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I know it is easy to find examples of corporate greed and corruption, but not all companies are that way. My husband worked for a wonderful, charitable company with revenues over $200 million, and I kind of hate to see the whole corporate world painted with the same slimy brush. I also think blaming corporate America has become an easy out and  almost cliche itself.

How about if you took it a different way and concentrated on the corruption of an individual whose actions threatened not only the little guy, but the corporation, too? Just a thought.
#18 - March 05, 2013, 07:47 PM

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