Photo with 53 notes
Among the many projects attracting crowd-sourced funding on the Kickstarter website this week are a premium Kobe beef jerky, a keyboard instrument called a wheelharp and a small leafy plant that will be made to glow in the dark using synthetic-biology techniques.
The Glowing Plant project, which ends its fund-raising campaign on 7 June, seeks to engineer the thale cress Arabidopsis thaliana to emit weak, green-blue light by endowing it with genetic circuitry from fireflies. If the non-commercial project succeeds, thousands of supporters will receive seeds to plant the hardy weed wherever they wish.
The US government has no problem with this prospect, yet some experts and industry watchers are jittery. They fear that distributing the plants could set a precedent for unsupervised releases of synthetic organisms, and might foster a negative public perception of synthetic biology — an emerging experimental discipline that involves genetically engineering organisms to do useful tasks.
A glow-in-the-dark tobacco plant was first engineered by scientists in the 1980s.