Insane Ways Scientists Are Genetically Modifying Animals

Voting Rules
Vote up the most extreme genetic experiments that use animals.

If you thought genetically modified crops were controversial, genetically modified animals are a whole different playing field of bizarre. Science has made a ton of advancements in changing animal DNA, especially with CRISPR, a genome editing tool that allows scientists to edit genomes with unprecedented precision. CRISPR has prevented HIV infections in human cells and aided in the creation of genetically modified pigs that may one day serve as organ donors for human transplant patients. It's groundbreaking, but is it always ethical?

Customizing animals is hardly a new concept. That adorable toy poodle and those fancy teacup pigs were all created to be as cute as nature would allow through selective breeding. That's one thing, but splicing the extra-cute DNA of your pup is a whole different level. Is genetically modifying a slaughterhouse cow to feel no pain a public service or a scary animal experiment?  What about splicing together a sustainable Salmon that humans can slice up on a bagel with cream cheese?

These insane genetically modified animal experiments are the future, and many of the advancements seem promising. But is the future really as rosy as you would hope? Vote up the extreme genetic experiments that are the most extreme and make you go "what?!"

Photo: Ankarakediler / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 3.0

  • 1
    171 VOTES

    Ruppy, The Flourescent Puppy

    Bioluminescent GMO animals aren't something new for science. Scientists have across-the-board injected animals like rhesus monkeys, mice, pigs and naked mole rats with glowing jellyfish DNA in various experiments. Ruppy the Glowing Puppy is a little different – she's the world's first transgenic dog which means she produces "a fluorescent protein that glows red under ultraviolet light," whereas most bioluminescent animals glow a blue or green when with UV light. She and her four siblings were created to created the dogs by "cloning fibroblast cells that express a red fluorescent gene produced by sea anemones" in order to help scientists discover how disease-causing genes are passed down through generations, which could lead to major breakthroughs in treating cancer, blindness and narcolepsy. Scientists picked the red-glowing jellyfish DNA because it's way easier to see the results if their subject is literally a glowing like an exit sign.

    171 votes
  • 2
    202 VOTES

    Spider-Goats

    Goats are truly adorable, but spiders are everyone's worst nightmare. So what happens when you combine them? Scientists have created a literal goat Spider-goat, proving that Peter Parker's fate really could happen if it was at all ethical to mess around with a human's DNA.

    In 2012, University of Wyoming scientists genetically engineered goats to produce a spider silk protein in their milk. This wasn't some kind of sick experiment to defeat the likes of Mysterio and the Green Goblin. It was to help foster silk production through created a super-strong milk, from which a particular protein could then be extracted and spun into silk. Spider silk is one of the strongest materials in the world, and is highly useful in the medical and scientific fields (not just in the superficial fashion space, though who doesn't appreciate a nice silk shirt?). But spiders just don't make enough of the material on their own. Genetically combining them with goats, who typically milk at least once a day, would increase production.

    If your skin is crawling because now you're thinking of a spider farm, just think of cute baby goats instead.

    202 votes
  • 3
    136 VOTES

    Glow Kitties

    Much like their fellow house pet Ruppy, the world's first transgenic dog, South Korean scientists managed to breed white Turkish Angora cats that glow under UV lights. The cats were cloned from their mother's altered skin cells, and scientists believe their breakthrough could lead to cloning endangered species like tigers and leopards. They also hope the cats can bring insight to more than genetic diseases that affect both cats and humans.

    136 votes
  • 4
    168 VOTES

    Mice That Make Baby Formula

    Not every mother can breastfeed, and while synthetic formula definitely does its job, it's lacking in certain proteins that can boost a baby's immune system. Lactoferrin is naturally occurring in human breast milk and helps babies gain resistance to bacteria and fungi. In an effort to improve baby formula, Russian scientists have been splicing mice with human genes in order to spawn rodents that produce milk with lactoferrin. Of course, you'd need a whole lot of mice to create enough milk for all the human babies in the world who need it, but this is just the beginning. Scientists hope this research will expand to animals like goats and cows that could produce milk on a much larger scale.

    168 votes
  • 5
    130 VOTES

    Cows That Fart Less

    Methane is destroying the Earth. It's one of the key greenhouse gasses that're causing global warming. You can blame all the starving polar bears on cows, who just can't stop burping and farting (okay, it's a little bit your fault too!). Cows are responsible for over 25 percent of Britain's methane emissions, but maybe not for long. Researchers at the University of Alberta have been working on creating less gassy cows (green cows, if you will). In 2009, they discovered the bacterium that produces methane and created a designer line of cows that produces 25% less gas. It's almost like Prius of agriculture.

    130 votes
  • 6
    133 VOTES

    Dairy Cows For The Lactose Intolerant

    It's estimated that 65% of the human population is lactose intolerant. In places like Asia, up to 90% of people have issues digesting dairy. It's pretty much a tragedy that a large swath of the population can't enjoy a half pint of lactose-laden Ben & Jerry's and an entire Dominos pizza. To fix this grave injustice, scientists have genetically modified a cow that creates milk without β-lactoglobulin, the protein that makes so many people sick. As a bonus, this milk loaded with extra casein, which means it's supposedly more nutritious than your average cow juice.

    133 votes