Biotics

Biotic drugs consist of genetically modified living plants or animals that are consumed to provide the effect of pharmaceuticals

Biotics
Image from Steve Bowers
Euphoric Bread-plant growing on Ouaddai

Although the most common historical way of taking drugs have been through pills, potions and infusions, from time to time the idea of returning to their origin pops up again. Biotic drugs consist of living plants or animals that are consumed to provide their effect. Already during the information era biotech hackers created versions of household plants with new effects in order to hide drug production from authorities. Some, like the noo-basil and the THC ficus, have become traditional in many terragen homes, cuisines or the wild.

Animal biotics are more rare, but not unheard of. Psychoactive meats are a speciality of many cultures derived from the Federation Era Trojan habitats, especially in the Utopia Sphere, MPA, and Communion. Today the farms of Oro Mistral provide some of the most expensive and exquisite psychoactive meats in the Wormhole Nexus; especially the Nirio refugee minority is known for their traditional (and expensive) farm-restaurants in the Dynamante region where extremely fresh meats are served in suitable settings for their effects. Some modifications go the other way: the cannibalistic cyborg clade Quenhamo of Mekelon have even engineered their own flesh to be highly psychoactive when eaten, and ceremonially share their flesh in special upgrading orgies when they have removed another useless part.

Psychoactive leeches and sucker beetles were independently developed on Dionysos and Lalande 21185. Their popularity has varied over time, but whenever retro-erotocracy and Genen decadence is in they tend to reappear. Most strains have been gengineered to provide measured amounts of psychotropics, survive well in an ordinary urban environment as well be fashion statements. At their latest height in the Inner Sphere, the fashion was iridescent feathered or furred biotics attached to the throat or chin, as well as plating shaved parts of the skull with hexagonal biotic plates. Next time the fashion re-appears it is bound to be in another form. The leechers of Frog's Head have for a long time provided a wide range of leech variants, including edible forms or programmable intestinal parasites.

A problem with biotics is the spread into the ecology, which sometimes causes unexpected problems. Most biotics cannot reproduce, in order to both protect the environment and the profits of the originator, but accidents and biohacking do happen. On the Ylma orbital band at Rergenar, a bankruptcy of the entertainment biotech consortium Harmonious Flecthe in 7530 and a series of clerical errors led to petbooks symbiotising with psychoactive biotics, forming an unusual and disturbing mini-ecology in some of the unused habitats. On Klarus a strain of sleep-promoting beetles managed to survive the version war disaster and became a serious pest in swamp areas: swarms of the sleeper beetles subdue mammalian prey and then suck their blood, often draining them to the point of anaemia or having them drown in the mud while sleeping.

 
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Development Notes
Text by Anders Sandberg

Initially published on 10 September 2001.