Synthetic creatures could â€œsave natureâ€
ERJ staff report (TP)
London − Synthetic living creatures would be released into the wild to save endangered species and clean up pollution under a futuristic proposal by designer Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, reported Dezeen Magazine.
Called Designing for the Sixth Extinction, the project is designed to trigger debate about how artificial organisms could be used to solve environmental problems.
"I'm looking at how we could do rewilding using synthetic biology," said Ginsberg. "The idea is that we could preserve or maintain a state of nature using synthetic organisms that are designed to save other species."
Ginsberg has proposed four new species, one of which includes a porcupine with sticky rubber spines that would help disperse seeds of threatened plants.
The creatures would be designed, patented and produced by corporations in the same way that industrial products are developed today. The corporations could use the creatures as a form of "biodiversity offsetting", to make up for environmental damage caused by their activities.
"The idea is [to ask whether we could] be designing organisms like we're designing products now to do something like save nature," Ginsberg said.
The creatures would be engineered to contain a genetic "kill switch" that would prevent them from over-breeding and creating new environmental problems.
The project was developed for an exhibition co-curated by Ginsberg about synthetic biology called Grow Your Own… Life After Nature at the Science Gallery Dublin, Ireland.
The exhibition, which opened in November and runs until 19 January 2014, presents a series of installations by designers, artists, scientists and others that explain and provoke debate about synthetic biology − an emerging discipline that involves designing and creating biological products.
Ginsberg said that the ideas explored in her installation are plausible. "There's a scientist who I showed this to and she said it's already happening," Ginsberg said. "It's happening not at the level of organisms but with bacteria; the concept of releasing things into the wild to preserve nature. This is not a hidden new world, it's actually happening."
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Full story from Dezeen Magazine