Shocking and bizarre could sum up a reasonable reaction to a little oddity known as a "GenPet". Upon coming across this strange..invention one is caught between a sense of disbelief on multiple levels, and a sort of nauseous realization that something like this really Could happen in this day and age.
If you visit the GenPet's website: http://www.genpets.com
you will find this description of the product that is being advertised:
"Say Hello to the all New Genpets™ from Bio.Genica!
The Genpets™ are Pre-Packaged, Bioengineered pets implemented today!
That’s right, Genpets are not toys or robots. They are living, breathing genetic animals.
We use a process called "Zygote Micro Injection" which is quickly becoming a favorable method to combine DNA, or to insert certain proteins from different species. Most notably it was used in 1997 to splice mice with bioluminescent jellyfish (link) and has since been used to create glowing rabbits, pigs, fish, and monkeys (link). Since then, human DNA has been injected into rabbits, chimpanzees, spider DNA into sheep, and now, Genpets have arrived!...
We’ve gone one step further by packaging the Genpets™ into plastic packages unlike any other. Each Genpet™ package has a fully functional heart rate monitor and Fresh Strip to better gauge the state of each pet while it lies in its hibernation state....
From there we’ve broken it down even further. While each Genpet may look the same, really they aren’t. Each Genpet™ comes with a color-coded personality. For example, a child that wishes to have a Genpet™ that is very energetic would choose a Red Genpet™ (see features section for details).
Engineered DNA, engineered personalities, and engineered lifespan, it doesn’t come any better than that. Bio-Genica has you covered on all bases. Just leave the details to us."
Here is a picture of one of these...things....
The GenPets creations have made it to store front windows and galleries where they illicited reactions from people which might only be called reasonable in light of what was being advertised as a great alternative to a toy for anyone's youngster.
"Genpets seems to create a reaction wherever they go. While in the store window of Iodine Toronto, the shop owner began sleeping in the store as many nights, people would bang at the windows furiously. Some in protest of the small Bio-genetically engineered creatures trapped in plastic..."
While other reactions..most notably from the up and coming generation were much more accepting...
"some wanting to wake them up or buy them. Hordes of teens wanting a bioengineered pet met confused, baffled, or even shocked looks from parents."
Well...now that you've been thoroughly disgusted..you can relax...a little. GenPets are, after all, a hoax. The creation of one Adam Brandejs, an artist who constructed these robotic, very life-like creatures which mimic breathing, twitching and clawing in their wire and plastic "hibernation" restraints. The purpose of their creation and the hoax in general was a social experiment of sorts, he says. An attempt to bring the full impact of bioengineering to light...though he is not against bioengineering in general according to his own claims.
"I’m not against bioengineering, I’m simply hesitant towards where and how and by whom the technology will be used. That’s what this sculpture sums up...I think it's important to take a critical look at both sides of an issue before coming to any sort of conclusion. Bioengineering could lead to medical breakthroughs that save lives, but will it? Genpets is more of a critique of corporate ethics than anything else. " - Adam Brandejs, Gen Pets creator" - Adam Brandejs, GenPets creator
After we are done being relieved that we don't have to bewail the lamentable plight of these sad little creatures stuck in plastic who are programmed to live for only three years or less...we need to see this kind of trend and curiosity for what it really is. Whether Mr. Brandejs knows it or not, his little stunt bears a striking resemblance to how shocking new conditions are normally introduced to the public. A little talk here and a little revelation there from the scientific community..politics which reflect, on a superficial level, what the gauge of public reaction is at present..and then the inevitable trial hoax.
What a good hoax like this can do for those who are really very serious about a future in radical bioengineering is give a very accurate picture of exactly where the public's mind is on the issue. How far can they push you...what can they get you to feel is good, acceptable,cool or trendy. It has a noted effect of desensitizing as well...as you bounce back from the shock of hearing that they are selling little chimeras in plastic bubbles, you are far less likely to get upset about the real industry of bioengineered pets.
Yes, there is a real industry for genetically modified pets...although so far, the most interesting things being sold are cats which are supposedly hypoallergenic. Companies like Lifestyle Pets, formerly known as Allerca, Felix Pets and Transgenic Pets Inc. all boast the claim of having created cats which have a non-active form of one protein believed to cause allergic reactions in people. It seems rather harmless in comparison to an idea like GenPets..right?
What could be wrong with bioengineering cats which don't cause sneezing? If nothing is wrong with that..what could be wrong with marketing bunny rabbits and puppies which glow in the dark ? (both of which have been created, if not sold as pets) Could there really be anything so bad as a few animals with human genes so long as it advances medical science? The shock begins to wear off one small step at a time...basic arguments about meddling with creation have never stood the test of time against so many things which are now a normal part of society. Science does not lack the ability to make any strange combination of chimera whether for use in a lab or sold as a trendy pet...the only thing which stands between us and the very real introduction of GenPets is the limits which human morality would place on such things. That has proven time and again to be a very weak barrier which can easily be broken down and there is little doubt in my mind that such a thing as GenPets will exist in some form or other in the future.
Possibly the most disturbing point in the whole GenPets drama is the reaction of the younger generation. While those reactions of their parents' generation were ones which reflect a normal repulsion to such an idea...the younger crowd were quite taken with the idea..they couldn't wait to have one. These kids did not stop to ask themselves questions about whether or not this was in any way humane...they weren't disturbed that living creatures had been created only to amuse children, be packaged into plastic containers and then forced to live out strange, short lives performing like circus animals. Quality of life was not an issue, disposable life was not an issue...even what manner of life these things were was not asked. Treating something alive and able to feel pain and possibly emotion with no more care than one would treat a disposable plaything seemed to not phase them.
In a disposable world where life has been consistently devalued in the minds of each successive generation..it's no wonder. To this next generation..what will life mean exactly...what will Human life mean? They have been programmed to think of human life as merely a higher sort of animal life and even been convinced to look at humanity as if it is inherently a plague upon earth. Infants are regarded as disposable byproducts of casual sex. Elders are regarded as disposable members of society, having outlived their usefulness. The poor and the homeless are not even deemed to be human at all...merely the unfortunate losing fringes of Social Darwinism.
GenPets are simply a peek into what comes next in a cold, loveless world which consistently refuses to look to their Creator for a moral foundation. There is no acceptable level of playing "god"...a lesson that the human race has sadly seemed to never grasp.