What if, instead of the regular old largely useless sludge that decomposing plant material result in, we could alter that sludge into something more useful to humans, thus eliminating the desire to simply burn it away? What if we could ferment it, and turn it into an alcohol, a fuel or a hyper-efficient fertilizer? Or better yet, all three! Why not get blitzed off of it, piss it into your gas tank to power your car and then puke it up into the yard to make your garden grow?
Suddenly alcoholics are useful members of society again. Hell, they're practically heroes: brave men and women sacrificing both their livers and their dignity to bring us power, food and alcoholic-inspired confidence!
Well, that's the noble goal biotech researchers had in mind when they spliced an alcohol-producing bacterium into K. planticola. Once their product was released, farmers would simply gather the dead plant matter into buckets and let it ferment into alcohol. Alcohol that could do everything they hoped: Be distilled into gasoline, sowed as fertilizer, burned as cooking fuel or just drunk by the filthy, dirt- tasting bucketful. Their bioengineered K. planticola would create a beautiful, Eden-like garden paradise. So it was all with the intent of doing good that they engineered this microbe, but you know what they say about "the best intentions," don't you?
That's right: They inevitably result in pestilent, humanity-destroying plagues.
See, it was that fertilizer part where things got, shall we say, fucking horrifying: Once the fermentation process necessary to turn that dead plant material into alcohol occurred, the sludge left over would be rich in nitrogen and other such beneficial substances, making it an ideal fertilizer. The plan was to spread this sludge fertilizer back on the fields, thus eliminating all waste from the whole process.