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?!"
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.
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.
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.
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.