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Glowing Plants: Crowdsourced Genetic Engineering Project Ignites Controversy

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In April three biohackers from a California Do-It-Yourself biology lab, BioCurious, posted a Kickstarter campaign to crowdsource their plan to bioengineer a glowing plant. They asked for $65,000. But by the close of their campaign at midnight on Thursday, June 6, they had raised a remarkable $484,013. (Meanwhile, BioCurious itself is in financial trouble.) It was the first time anyone had kick-started a genetic engineering project. The group had hit upon a new method for funding biotech, one that’s faster, cheaper and requires less expertise than traditional grants or venture capital. Crowdsourcing does require public buy in, however, and this case raises a thorny hitch—ethically, environmentally and perhaps legally.

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