ARE THE interests of ordinary people at the heart of big business and government schemes? Are advances in science always good? Those are the key questions at the heart of the new BBC conspiracy thriller Fields of Gold, co-written by Ronan Bennett and Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger.
FTW, Feed the World, is a top biotechnology company promising to end hunger in the Third World by creating a new crop of genetically modified (GM) wheat. It is carrying out a trial harvest secretly on a farm in the English countryside.
The inhabitants of the local community are dying of a disease at an increasingly high rate. FTW is closely connected with the British government, which is stuffed full of former radicals who have now sold their principles for power. In the programme, Alan Buckley, the slimy Blairite agriculture secretary, is a former Socialist Worker journalist.
Now he is more interested in defending the government's reputation and their big profits. Roy Lodge and Lucia Merritt, tabloid journalists, are sent to investigate the high death rate in the area, believing a doctor is killing his patients. Fields of Gold is a drama about the concerns of millions of people round the world about GM foods and their safety.
It shows how corporations are more interested in their profits than research into whether the use of GM is harmful. And it is a satire of New Labour's willingness to back GM, and the multinationals, whatever the cost to people.
My only criticism would be that it has too cynical a view of the left-that everybody sells out their principles in the end. Despite this Fields of Gold is an interesting, powerful and topical watch.
Fields of Gold is on BBC1 this Saturday, 8 June, and Sunday 9 June.