If you actually crossed a slug with a bear, I wonder if you’d end up with a slimy, leathery, slow moving but intelligent mammal, or a tiny furry gastropod with claws? I suspect you’d just end up with a huge non-viable blob of collapsed flesh. I imagine it’s really tricky to play at gene-splicing in an entertaining, profitable or even just predictable manner.
So while you laugh at the flesh lump, I’ll be thinking of traits that could be shared. We’ve seen this before in glow in the dark pigs. It is possible to extract a cell property and insert it into the genetic material of another animal to give it some new ability. Disturbing, but possible. I’d be tempted to introduce chlorophyll to humans, as eating when its sunny is often more effort than its worth.
Actually, thinking of that, I can absolutely imagine someone proposing covering the worlds cattle population in chlorophyll in the hopes that it would absorb more Carbon Dioxide without the need to, change patterns of consumption. Green cows, trying to deal with the effects excess body chemicals churning below their skin.
It’s a hard thing to make light of, because it’s going to have a huge weird impact on our future. Possibly. I suspect its more likely to be the slow adaptation and corporatisation of our foodstuffs than commercially available pigfinches, but perhaps I’m just being unimaginative.
Genetic modification is a fast way of doing stuff that nature does itself. It mutates genes to create new strains of things. The problem is, that doing this industrially takes out the checks and measures of adaptation through evolution. The changes we can make to our ecosystems are bigger than ever before, and we are doing it.
Even more worrying, its often a way of giving big corporations even more control over our world. A trademarked ‘rugged wheat’ or whatever, that can be grown in more arid climates, but requires a certain brand of fertiliser, or just to be bought anew each year, could provide a lifeline to a subsistence farmer who can see a way of making money.
Except as well as a lifeline, its a chain, or maybe even a noose. You are tied into a contract with somebody, and they hold all of the strings.
Nature itself, is very much built from the ground up to be sustainable. We find ways to exploit that for our own gain, often at the cost of balance. I worry about the processes that make that happen faster, particularly if they put control in the hands of the greedy.
I’ve taken a fun question and turned it into a miserable, anti-technology rant. Its interesting though, because its such a misunderstood topic. The whole frankenfood thing makes the arguments against it seem quite ridiculous, when they aren’t. This isn’t about monsters, this is about exploitation.
If the world was just a playground, I’d be crossing trees with lions, eagles with kittens and wasps with pickup trucks.
But it isn’t.
Illustration by Emma