Eco-friendly, Green, Nature, Science

Could Glowing Plants Be the Answer to Sustainable Light?

glowing tree
Are genetically modified plants a safe solution for free light?
Image: Shutterstock

It may not seem like the best time for Omri Amirav-Drory to present his glowing plant idea.  There is a battle raging in the state of Washington over whether to label GMO foods.  All around the world farmers are protesting or even committing suicide over the notion that they must use genetically modified seeds.  People are up in arms about keeping GMOs out of their bodies and homes.

However, it is at precisely such a moment when Amirav-Drory has proposed we bring genetically modified plants into our hearts and homes.  The scientist and businessman has a dream to engineer plants to light up using firefly proteins.  His dream pictures their use on every street corner and inside people’s houses.

“I think it will be a more interesting, beautiful world with glowing plants in it,” he said.

The idea sounds so futuristic and “space-agey,” and it really appeals to the nerd as well as the designer in me.  How cool would it be if you could have a glow-in-the-dark orchid in the corner?  Or, what about a row of glowing chrysanthemums to light the way from your bedroom to the restroom overnight?  They wouldn’t use up any electricity and wouldn’t pose a risk of burning your house down like candles do.  On the surface, these light-emitting plants sound pretty awesome.

Many people are already on board and wanted to fund Amirav-Drory’s Kickstarter campaign that ended on June 7th.  Almost 8,500 people pitched in to raise $484, 013 to create a rose that glows.  The initial ask was only $65,000, so the crowfunding exceeded their goal by a long shot.  Those who donated will receive a kit to grow a glowing Arabidopsis plant.

By next June, you too will be able to grow your very own glowing plant with a DIY kit from Etsy.  What is still unknown is how brightly the light will glow.  It is estimated that it might be about the same level as a nightlight.

The question that still remains is whether the public will worry about the effects of raising genetically altered plants.  According to Amirav-Drory, “Anyone with a glowing plant in their house won’t be afraid of genetic engineering.”

The truth of that statement remains to be seen.  There are those who are already fighting back.  The Canadian environmental organization, the ETC group, is launching a campaign to stop the creation of the plants.  They are calling their campaign a “kickstopper,” because they feel the GMO plants will end up getting out into the wild and doing harm to natural plants.

The last words from Amirav-Drory are, “It’s legal. I think it’s proper. It’s beautiful.”  You decide.


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