Dewi and the Seeds of Doom is the perfect book for indoctrinating your children into an anti-GMO conspiracy whilst at the same time promoting a bit of welsh pride.
Last year I wrote a blog post heavily criticising what I consider to be one of the vilest books ever conceived. Stephanie Messenger’s ‘Melanie’s Marvelous Measles’ is a book aimed towards young children that attempts to convince them that vaccines are ineffective and, rather worryingly, to actively try and contract measles. The book even ends with the protagonist saying, after failing to contract measles from her friend, “Maybe I’ll be lucky enough to catch measles next time someone we know has them!”. As well as enraging people by giving advice that has the real potential to maim (if not kill!), the name of the book has struck a nerve with many who noticed its similarity to the title of a book by Roald Dahl (who lost his own daughter to measles), George’s Marvellous Medicine.
Ever since I brought attention to this horrendous book, I have been inundated with requests to review other crank products. Not a week goes by where I am not sent a link to the latest woo sold online marketed towards the most vulnerable people. Most of the time, the most you will get out of me is a disapproving grunt, but every now and again something peaks my interest to the point where I go out of my way and buy it. One such example of this is ‘Dewi and the Seeds of Doom’ – an anti-GMO book aimed towards pre-teens.
The book stars a bright red Welsh dragon by the name of Dewi who, one day whilst exploring the forest, is hit in the face by a rat that fell from the sky. The rat is on death’s door and Dewi takes it to his friend Squiffy who nurses it back to health. In the meantime, Dewi sets out to uncover the mystery of what happened to make the rat sick and how it came to fall from the sky. His investigation leads him to Castle Gloomsgoor owned by the infamous Barron Doom where he finds a laboratory filled with rats in cages – some of which are acting strange, whilst others are not moving at all. At the back of the lab, he discovers two different types of corn – one named “Cornus normalus” and the other “Cornus ghastly messus” – a synthetic creation made by Barron Doom’s henchmen. He steals both and takes them to his friend Jones the toad who happens to be a chemist. Jones looks at both types of corn under the microscope and discovers that…..well, just read below.
So it turns out that both the synthetic corn and the Cornus Normalus both have circles where there should be squares and triangles where there should be circles. At this point, it should be mentioned that, although this synthetic corn is never called a GMO in the book text, it is on the cover.
Armed with this knowledge, Dewi warns the farmer who sold Doom the Cornus normalus but, rather than being concerned that his corn has been contaminated, he shrugs it off and goes back to attending his crop. Frustrated with the farmer’s lack of concern, Dewi decides to report Doom and his corn to the authorities, who are reluctant to do anything despite believing Dewi and taking all his evidence. They let the dragon and his friends know that they will investigate in due time, but Dewi believes that Doom (who by this time will have noticed that his Cornus ghastly messus is missing) will take this opportunity to destroy all the evidence linking him to his ghastly synthetic creation. It is at this point that Dewi and others decide to become vigilantes and hatch a plan to kidnap Doom.
Later that day, Dewi and his woodland friends descend upon Castle Gloomsgoor and do indeed find Doom trying to destroy all evidence of his involvement. It’s here that the story becomes hard to follow and a little convoluted, but here is the gist. Doom overhears Dewi and attempts to bribe him with a suit of armor whilst telling all about his plan to sell farmers seeds with the promise of producing higher yields, but in reality, they will do nothing of the sort – and by this time they would have already signed contracts. It is also revealed at this point that Doom’s corn makes people become ill and that he coincidentally is also selling medicine.
A fight ensues which goes back and forth, eventually leading to doom being subdued. It is at this point that Dewi attempts to get the attention of the locals and the authorities by writing with fire in the sky using the colours of the welsh flag. The story ends with Dewi going back to his home where his parents congratulate him on defeating Doom. At first glance, this book is a little on the boring side, but when you step back and think about what the author, Maggie Lyons, is trying to convey, who the caricatures represent, and what action she is actually promoting, it becomes something very different.
The book is essentially the views of one woman on the GMO industry and those who promote them, dumbed down to a children’s story. It’s painfully obvious that she believes GMOs are inherently damaging and that the only reason why they have been allowed to be used for the food industry is that farmers don’t really care what is grown on their land, that the government’s hands are held down by bureaucracy, and that people have been bribed by those making GMOs. This is why the farmer in her story shrugs off the evidence that the corn he is now selling has been contaminated with Dooms horrendous creation. It’s why the authorities do nothing despite being given physical evidence, and it is why Doom so casually tries to bribe Dewi when he is discovered.
The book also feeds off parents’ fears of consuming GMOs when it’s especially unspecific about the health effects of eating both Doom’s synthetic corn and the farmer’s contaminated corn. In a book about a flying welsh dragon that can breathe fire and talk to woodland creatures, you would think that the health effects would be more detailed, but they are not. Instead, we have a few lines of dialogue between Jones the chemist and Dewi where Jones says:
At the end of the day, it’s really upsetting to know that this book exists and is being used to indoctrinate children into thinking that GMOs on the market pose a real threat. And believe me – there are parents out there who are using this book to indoctrinate their children. Just look at some of the reviews.
Unfortunately, I don’t think this little blog post will do anything to persuade the children and parents who have bought this book, but I do have an idea for a counter-argument book if anyone is interested. The story is about an English dragon named George who has an interested in science and likes to debunk misinformed woodland creatures. One day, he is informed by a farmer living in Wales that there is another red dragon terrorising local biochemists. On discovering that this other dragon has been stealing scientific research, breaking into research facilities, planning to kidnap scientists, and assaulting those who get in his way, George flies over to Wales to thwart this antiscience thug and to counter all his claims made against GMOs.