This blog contains material I wrote and posted on between the years 2005 and 2011 only. It does not contain any new material. For newer writing, please check my main blog (Bill the Butcher).

Friday, 12 October 2012

Ten Genetically Modified Creatures We Could Really Use

You keep reading about all these genetically modified organisms which have been given properties they’d never have in the natural condition. The last one, if memory serves, that I encountered was pigs that have been modified to glow in the dark – if you throw ultraviolet light on them.

How did we ever survive without them before? I mean – can you possibly imagine a more useful invention than glow-in-the-dark pigs? The next time you want to read in the pig enclosure at night, all you need is your trusty UV lamp...

I can imagine future creations along the same lines...elephants with built-in USB ports, perhaps, or rhinoceroses with gills, or catfishes with the ability to sing like linnets. Before we go down that road, however, perhaps you’d forgive me if I list some animals (and plants and fungi) we could really use:

1.     The Dragonoid Fly-eater: Imagine your house is full of houseflies, buzzing around everywhere, driving you to distraction, and ignoring your fly-paper and your fly-spray and that dubious ultrasonic fly-chaser you bought from eBay. And then – then, imagine a tiny winged creature that flaps round the room, throwing a long sticky tongue out and eating the flies as fast as they come, until there are none left. Useful, isn’t it? Suggested base animal: the chameleon.

2.     The Amoeboid Tooth-Cleaner: You’ve just had a hearty meal and you’re too damned tired to brush and/or floss; and you’re worried about what you might do to your teeth if you don’t floss and so on. No problems! Just pop in an Amoeboid Tooth Cleaner, a protozoan organism of the size, appearance and consistency of a piece of chewing gum, and flavoured accordingly. Even as you chew, it will put out pseudopodia and consume every fragment of food debris and every bacterium that it encounters. And afterwards you can even swallow and digest it! Suggested base animal: the common amoeba, Amoeba proteus.

3.     The Miner Worm: Below our feet, the world is full of valuable mineral ores just waiting to be extracted – but unreachable due to the ores being too difficult or expensive or environmentally destructive to get. So let’s make some new earthworms – earthworms that, as they bore through the soil, digest and extract and store all those minerals in their bodies. Then we can call the earthworms back to some kind of central station by chemical pheromones released into the soil, or something; or else we include the genes of those marine worms that swarm to the surface to breed only on two specific nights of the year. So when the worms come back home we put them into a special tank where they throw up all those minerals, and then we can let them go back into the soil for another load. How does that sound? Base animal: Any of the larger earthworms.

4.     The Blood-Sample Flea: For those who are scared of the needle and yet need to give of their precious blood for tests. Simply get one to bite you, collect it, and force it to disgorge the blood it’s drunk. Base animal: the flea. At least it’s going to be of some use.

5.      The Gorilla Security Guard: Self-explanatory. Some Doberman genes in the gorilla base should do the trick.

6.      The Cleaner Ant: Imagine this scenario: your floors are filthy, you’re exhausted, and your vacuum cleaner is on the blink. Open a tin of the Cleaner Ant – and your worries are over! The Cleaner Ant will pick up and consume every fragment of dirt, and, if afterwards you want to get rid of them, why, just unleash your Dragonoid Fly-Eater (No 1, above) on them.

7.     The Nightlight Moth: take some of the really large moths, the Atlas Moth for instance, and put glow-worm genes in them...or perhaps the genes from the glowing fish of the ocean abyss. Release these moths every night in large numbers, and you can dispense with a large part of public lighting. What say?

8.     The Soap-Cotton Tree: There are berries that make a lather when put in water and rubbed. Take genes from them and put it in your regular cotton tree. What you have is a fabric that will never require soaps – all you have to do is put in water and rub, and it’s self-lathering! Wonderful or what?

9.      The Meat Mushroom: Take one of the more fleshy, but harmless, mushrooms, and put in chicken genes, (or cow, goat, rabbit or pig, as desired) for flavour. Right away you’ve got vegetarian meat – at a fraction of the cost of raising livestock for consumption. Even the vege-fascists of PETA can’t find fault with that, though I’m sure they’ll try.

10. The Pollution-eating Locust: Take your average migratory-phase locust, Schistocerca gregaria or Locusta migratoria, and put in some of the genes that make rats such connoisseurs of garbage. Promote and encourage these creatures, and see the world's garbage woes vanish! And afterwards you can have roast locust too.

Anyone willing to set up a new biotech firm with me?

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