Glow-in-the-Dark GMOs

Reader Contribution by Aly Van Dyke
article image

I didn’t believe this when I heard it, but after typing “glow in the dark animals” into Google, I realized there was no denying it:  geneticists are engineering glow-in-the-dark animals, fish, crops and who knows what else from a fluorescent-producing gene found in jellyfish.

Scientists splice genes from jellyfish to make animals and crops glow.

Proponents say they can use the glow-in-the-dark “feature” as an indicator of different environmental stresses — such as exposure to pollution or drought. Scientists have already produced glow-in-the-dark cats, fish and pigs, and if the YouTube videos with glowing-red cats and pictures of bright green pigs aren’t enough to spook you — imagine a field of corn glowing fluorescent orange because the crop is in need of water. It sounds like something out of a science fiction novel to me.

I guess I can see the benefits of using these “designer genes” to help monitor and contain environmental stresses, but as with any genetically modified organisms, be it crops or animals, these alterations of nature come with potential risks to humans, the environment and, specifically, small farms. GMOs just haven’t been around long enough for us to know their effects — but one thing’s for sure:  the animals don’t like them. And if a rat won’t even touch it, I don’t think I’m going to either.

What do you think? Is gene splicing a good idea given the exponential human population growth and its increasing demand for food? Can glow-in-the-dark indicators provide some answers for growing and protecting our environment? Or are they just another Frankenfood?