It started with another “you heard it here first” foray into sensationalism by my local television station which reported that a “perplexing plague had hit trees, crops, weeds, everything,” in west Tennessee.

“Farmers are scratching their heads, and some believe their crops may be lost to the mysterious plague,” purred an anchorwoman.

“Look at these tiny dots,” gushed a well-coiffed, nattily-attired field reporter, as he applied his keen sense of agronomics to the speckled leaves he clutched.

“It looks as though something burned straight through the leaf. The tiny dots appear different depending on the plant. On corn plants, the dots seem to turn white at the center. On other plants, a white dust speckles the leaves, then destroys the green life underneath.”

The reporter noted that, “Farmers are convinced that something in the air is causing this damage,” although the only farmer I saw interviewed was an organic grower — not that there’s anything wrong with that.

The yellow journalism went into high gear later on a Web site called GodLikeProductions.com, which apparently saw the news show online and ran with it. It surmised that the tiny dots on the leaves in west Tennessee were caused by “apocalyptic rains” created by who else, British Petroleum.

“This is very scary folks,” someone wrote on the Web site. “Could the Russian scientists be right about BP’s dispersants and oil evaporating and (raining) on eastern and northeastern United States killing all vegetation and wildlife?”

Just to bring you up to speed, the European Union Times reported recently that two Russian scientists warned “that the British Petroleum oil and gas leak in the Gulf of Mexico was about to become the worst environmental catastrophe in all of human history threatening the entire eastern half of the North American continent with total destruction.”

The scientists believe that BP’s chemical dispersal agent Corexit 9500, which BP is supposedly using to disperse the oil spill, will eventually evaporate (exacerbated by global warming, of course) and descend upon the earth in the form of an acid-like rain which will destroy all our crops (and probably cause a few bad hair days as well).

Something definitely did happen in west Tennessee, although Extension personnel who inspected the affected plant life aren’t sure what caused it. Potential causes include a jet fuel dump in the area and the accidental release of a chemical from an industrial plant in west Tennessee. But according to experts in plant agronomy, even the most severely affected fields are expected to recover from the damage.

The loss of life in the BP explosion, the incredible toll the BP spill took on fishing and tourism along the coast and the potential for unforeseen damage yet to occur points to a company that should be shouldering blame for a long time to come.

But the idea that they had anything to do with the specks on crops in west Tennessee is preposterous.

e-mail: erobinson@farmpress.com