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Glowing Plants To Replace Lamps? This Group Is Working To Make It Happen Despite Warnings From Environmentalists [VIDEO]

May 09, 2013 12:22 PM EDT
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Forget lamps and light bulbs – houses of the future will be lit with glowing plants.

That is the vision, at least, of Antony Evans, Omri Amirav-Drory and Kyle Taylor who have far exceeded their goal of raising $68,000 via Kickstarter in order to fund their mission of inserting bioluminescence genes used by fireflies and other organisms into Arabidopsis, a small flowering plant, in an effort to make it glow.

Called the Glowing Plant project, the team explains on their website how they were inspired by two studies, one of which was conducted at State University of New York and resulted in a dimly-lit plant.

In the other, scientists at the University of Cambridge successfully placed genes from fireflies and bioluminescent bacteria into E. coli in order to yield a far brighter light output.

By combining the approaches used in both studies, the team hopes to create plants that could replace not only an indoor lamp, but streetlamps.

However, despite what Kickstarter may suggest, not everyone is thrilled about the project; in fact, according to the Wall Street Journal, some environmental groups have gone so far as to ask the crowd-funding platform to shut Glowing Plant down.

Among critics’ complaints is the project’s plan to distribute seeds to contributors.

“We object to this distribution with no oversight,” Jim Thomas, research director of Action on Erosion, Technology and Concentration, said, calling it an “irresponsible move.”

Furthermore, a complaint signed by both Thomas’ group and Friends of the Earth. warns that the project would lead to “widespread, random and uncontrolled release of bioengineered seeds” they fear will pose “real world risks to the environment.”

According to John Ward, a professor of synthetic biology at University College London, such concerns are an overreaction as a plant with glow-in-the-dark genes does not, in his opinion, pose a threat on local environments.

“The actual mutation in the plant, which would be luciferase genes, are not any kind of threat,” he told the Wall Street Journal. “It just makes it glow slightly. That’s not going to give it any kind of competitive advantage in nature, which is the only way that gene could thrive.”

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