Nov 1997 - Feb 1998
New York, Brisbane, Ljubljana, New Mexico, Hawaii

BioPEEP, the code name for a top secret research project commissioned by an unnamed multinational corporation, was a sinister plot to genetically alter and irreversibly addict human beings who unknowingly consumed their products.

The addiction was caused by a genetically engineered “product” virus which permanently altered the DNA structure of the host.

This addiction-causing material would create human “consumer product junkies,” thus assuring this multinational corporation total market dominance. In other words, if the company was a cola company, the consumer would become addicted to that specific brand and no other. The virus was to be released at the Sydney 2000 Olympics ensuring a global epidemic of buyers.

Tens of thousands of chickens at an unnamed Queensland poultry facility were bred, tested and slaughtered until scientists isolated the exact genes of addiction.

A gene sequencing laboratory in Santa Fe, New Mexico, a super computer in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and a marketing firm in Hawaii supported the project, with cooperation from Germany, Italy, France, and England.

At the point of successful isolation and testing on humans, the research was co-opted by the U.S. military for use as a biological weapon capable of eradicating DNA targeted populations (specifically Jews, Arabs, Africans and Asians) through consumer products

While the military worked on an antidote to the virus, which could be used selectively to protect its allies, it planned to continue the economic protocol for profit and gain. All the scientists were offered elaborate incentives and stock options to assure their loyalty to this still top secret project.

While not in this case true, this imaginary scenario is quite plausible. In fact, the capability for product addiction and for selected “gene-ocide” may already exist.

STOP BioPEEP was a complex performance piece that touched on many issues that face humanity and that deserve serious contemplation, such as:

  • The unscrupulous use of biotechnologies that can and will alter life as we know it;
  • The government/military's ability to use biological weapons to control populations and the economy;
  • The greedy and exploitative corporate power structure that is able to manipulate consumers for profit;
  • The vulnerability of the consuming public;
  • The corporatization and commercialization of sports;
  • The gullibility and irresponsibility of the journalistic gatekeepers who hold the public's trust to provide accurate information.
  • Skaggs launched the hoax by mailing press releases and letters from Australia to the international media under the assumed name of Dr. Joseph Howard, claiming that an employee of BioPEEP, who decided he could no longer live with his conscience, had provided stolen documents, and clandestinely taken photographs.

    Howard, an international humanist living in Brisbane, Australia, had agreed to create a human and animal rights group called People for Ethical Evolutionary Practices (P.E.E.P.), and to launch a campaign to alert the world about the imminent threat of BioPEEP's research.

    The defector's information was made available to the world media on an elaborate Web site at Pages and pages of documents -- letters, e-mails, charts, graphs, marketing studies, photographs, and scientific data --were mounted on the site to help convince the media that military defense assets were poised for gene-ocide, a new war tool capable of massive devastation to the human ecology when used as a preemptive strike.

    In addition, P.E.E.P. held public rallies, first on International Human Rights Day in Brisbane Australia on December 10, 1997, and then in front of the United Nations in New York City on January 27, 1998, at which demonstrators wore t-shirts with a two headed chicken logo and carried protest signs.

    As global as this hoax was in it's concept and execution, the media's responses to the press releases and Web site were also global. Although there is no way of knowing how much ink this hoax has and continues to garner, Skaggs is thus far aware of headlines in The Australian, a national newspaper, which reported on Wednesday, December 10,1997, “Genetic conspiracy turns to fowl play,” and in The New York Post on Saturday, January 3, 1998 which exhorted, “Zealots cry fowl over flu slaughter.” (As an aside, the People for Ethical Evolutionary Practices had not claimed any connection to the Hong Kong chicken flu at that time). In addition, the planned demonstration at the U.N. was reported on the U.P.I. and A.P. Wire Services.

    As luck would have it, the New York demonstration took place on the same day as President Clinton's State of the Union address, which was occurring right in the midst of the largest media propelled sex scandal of his presidency. Skaggs' planned media performance had coincided with an extraordinary surreal and over-the-top display of media irresponsibility. There was very little ink left for any other stories, real or otherwise that day. This made his effort to get his message out even more challenging.

    When asked for his thoughts on this, he said “It's becoming more difficult to satirize reality as we have become a tabloid society. It seems that a growing majority of the news media would rather sell a story based on speculation than search for the truth. This is of course is how I've been so successful with my hoaxes over the years. But these last few weeks have really proven my point. And, ironically, the speculative story of Clinton's sexual activity was a far bigger story than my speculative story about a new secret genetic weapon. It's hard to compete with reality.”



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    © 1997 Joey Skaggs