I was traipsing along my merry way, as one does when procrastinating, when I saw this headline: Transgenic sneaker company grows custom designs on genetically engineered stingrays.
After my first eye-popping, what the…? I clicked.
The article discussed the company, Rayfish, and whether or not the claims are true that it’s growing these fancy-skinned stingrays to make into sneakers. Designs mimicking animals such as zebras and any other pattern and color imaginable. The question in the article was whether it was possible that “consumers design their own ray to be harvested for its kookily colored leather.”
The debate is further explained. Scientists question the ability to actually control the coloring of an animal that precisely, the completity of process involved since it would require manipulating several genes, etc. And while I think it’s cool, the possibilities of creating your own specially designed stingray, I’m left with this kind of What?
Cause why didn’t the article ask: why are they growing and killing stingrays for shoes? Maybe I’m just too soft-hearted. I’m not into cow leather, either. (Fake leather has its uses. As well as fake fur). And I fully admit that culturally, the stingray is used as food and as leather, and all sorts of things in Thailand. But I’m picturing those graceful rays in the aquarium that float through the water and thinking, they’re killing those for shoes?
When it comes down to it, this isn’t too far from biopunk, is it? The manipulation of a living organism to create a product, or a specialized being, or the “better” human. The cultural mores that might allow the market for such an idea while others might view it as cruel, or as a “What the…? Why are they making shoes out of the cousin of a fish?”
What if they designed them as pets? Would you want your own pink jaguar-patterned ray? Anybody else picturing an Island of Dr. Moreau type thing with stingrays that can talk, organize, and attack their maker?
(Insert Jaws theme song here)
Or maybe design a weaponized ray that hunts and destroys enemy boats?
Okay. This post has now officially jumped the shark. I’m stopping now, before I move on to specially designed purses.
Her Science Fiction Romance, Desert Blade is a near-future post-apocalyptic romance from Carina Press. Currently available SFR: Silver Bound, Jaq’s Harp, Braided Silk & Firestorm on E’Terra. MetalMark, coming soon from Lyrical Press.