THE STAGE 32 LOGLINES

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SHADOW ON THE HEARTLAND
By Patricia Fox

GENRE: Drama
LOGLINE: A successful Wall Street attorney reluctantly returns to rural North Dakota to help his family fight against an agricultural corporate giant that's suing them while it quickly starts taking over the food industry.

SYNOPSIS:

Wyatt Fielding hasn't been back to North Dakota for eight years. The year is 1998 and the country is flying high on start-up IPOs and Wall Street ingenuity. His entire life has been about getting away from the depressed economic climate of the Midwestern rural existence. He's forced to return just when life couldn't be more perfect, he's just been made Junior Partner at his law firm and he's contemplating proposing to his beautiful girlfriend. But his parents desperately need his help, they're being sued for patent violation by the agriculture giant, D-Tech, and the company has placed a lien on their farm. The catch is, Wyatt's parents never planted D-Tech patented seed. His investigation brings him into the murky waters of the food industry, the ethics of food patents and the safety of genetically engineered food. He finds out the patents of seeds follow the seed itself, it doesn't matter that the Fieldings never bought or planted the seed. This flies in the face of the history of both farming and patent law. At this time in the 1990s, agriculture companies took plant samples secretly from farmers if it was suspected that the farmer planted a patented seed without paying the licensing fees. The best resolution Wyatt can help his family come to, is a bluff that he will not pursue a counter-lawsuit to challenge the ethics of patenting living organisms that, by their nature, mutate and cross-pollinate and he won't pursue an investigation of corruption in government agencies when he discovers that government officials have gone back and forth to and from D-Tech working for both the corporation and the government over the past few years. Even though the company drops its case against the Fieldings, Wyatt's father had to destroy his granary of seeds and the stress of this legal situation aggravates his heart problem, killing him. Wyatt is left to pick up the pieces of life, during his time in North Dakota, he loses his job at the firm because his firm once represented a company that was acquired by D-Tech and the firm is beholden by a confidentiality agreement that is retro-active. He loses his fiancée due to a romance he starts with an friend from high school. He ultimately decides that this is a cause worth fighting for and moves on from NYC and North Dakota, and both women, to help other growers save their livelihoods and try to keep corporations from dominating and controlling the food supply.

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