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A team of journalists from WIRED have finally cracked the case on a twenty year mystery that, by now, has become almost the creation myth of the modern, radical techno-environmentalist movement. The identity of Johnny Milkweedseed, the name given to the anonymous person or persons responsible for the great milkweed explosion of 2021, was revealed to be Leslie Johnson of DuBuque, Iowa, now deceased.
The journalists re-opened the search for the mysterious actor after last year’s discovery of the original lab that was used to create the hybrid milkweed disseminated by Johnson in the summer of 2020. After tests confirmed the archive of plasmids indeed contained the roundup resistant gene found in milkweed 247a, a number of journalists followed them back to their source – an overgrown farm in Dubuque. The lead turned out to be Johnson’s nephew, Mark Lee, who had kept the garage biolab located in the back barn of the property in nearly perfect condition since his aunt’s passing in 2036. By then, she had moved onto more modern equipment that she was using to create apple and strawberry varieties for her farm, but the lab still housed a number of the classic devices Johnson used for that initial prototyping of milkweed 247a: petri dishes to grow bacteria, micropipettes for implantation, a huge archive of plasmids, as well as the DNA synthesizer that she used, which, as far as Lee knew, was “probably a second-hand machine she found on eBay.” Read More