The term "GMO" has been hijacked by pop culture. In that realm it's essentially meaningless because "genetic modification" can vary from anything that was selectively bred to something invented in a mad scientist's laboratory.
Humans have been genetically modifying species for thousands of years. Corn was bread from a type of wheat. The golden retriever cozying up to you at night is a wolf. And you, yes you, are a type of domesticated animal.
But while dietitians and health enthusiast have hopped on the anti-GMO bandwagon, scientists have been using the process to create some wild species in their efforts to cure diseases. What's left behind are real, living plants and animals that would make James Cameron blush.
Have you ever heard of glowing cats? As part of a study aimed at combatting AIDS, South Korean scientists used jellyfish DNA to create bioluminescent cats. The protein that causes jellyfish to glow is used to mark changes in a cat's genetic makeup, namely that the cat is resistant to the feline version of the HIV virus.
The effort is absolutely noble, but it's also shown the mind blowing capabilities of genetic modification when it's allowed to roam. Cats are not the only animals that are now glowing and they prove that the same could be applied to humans. Seattle's punk scene could be a little less dreary during the winter. I mean if face lifts and boob jobs are ethical, why not glowing hair?
But deliberately creating bioluminescent organisms hasn't been limited to the animal kingdom. And that's where its relevance could one day apply to architecture and urban planning. A fully funded Kickstarter campaign is aimed at developing bioluminescent trees. Bioluminescence isn't unheard of in the plant kingdom. Various forms of fungi glow in the dark. But introducing Mother Nature's technology to large trees could one day light our city's streets.
For a century we've been looking at ways to use Mother Nature to power our built environment through solar, wind, and hydropower. Now, it seems, we have the capability to bypass harnessing Mother Nature's power by empowering Her to simply provide it through slightly altered nature.
Combined with Pro-Teq's unique pavement that absorbs ultraviolet light during the day and returns it at night, truly bioluminescent gingko, maple, and sycamore trees could make the pricy need for street lamps a thing of the past. Welcome to a Philadelphia illuminated by nature, the urban embodiment of Avatar.