stingray rattlesnake pattern
Biocustomization

Transgenic Stingrays for Fashionable Feet

Rayfish Footwear, a company based in Thailand, has recently produced what may be the world’s first genetically modified stingray. This ray exhibits an unusual, colorful pattern across its skin, thanks to a selection of rattlesnake and fish genes that alter its color and marking.

This could be the first time that an animal has been genetically modified purely for aesthetic reasons – the company is not making these rays for research, but in the hopes of producing stingray “leather” to use in customized shoes. Rayfish Footwear claims that within the next few years, it will be possible to produce genetically bespoke rays on demand. Incorporating the genes from a variety of animals, these stingrays will be far more colorful and complex than any naturally occurring fish.

Here at Next Nature, we’re a bit skeptical about this new technology. After all, genetically modified salmon have proven to be a hazard to wild populations if they escape from fish farms and interbreed. Perhaps these GM stingrays grow too fast, are susceptible to disease, or are otherwise “less fit” than their relatives in the ocean. There’s already enough risks to wild rays without strangely-colored interlopers swimming around. On the other hand, manipulating nature for the sake of fashion seems no less strange than featherless chickens, glowing green monkeys or, for that matter, what we do to animals raised in laboratories or factory farms on a daily basis.

Story via Rayfish.com

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