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Pink Chicken Project


PINK CHICKEN PROJECT

Coloring all chickens pink with Gene-Drive

Re-occupying the Rock Strata

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Pink Chicken Project


PINK CHICKEN PROJECT

Coloring all chickens pink with Gene-Drive

Re-occupying the Rock Strata

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What?


What?


 

WHAT?

Pink Chicken Project suggests changing the colour of the entire species Gallus Gallus Domesticus to pink.

Being the world's most common bird, the bones of the 60 billion chickens that we kill and eat every year leave a distinct trace in the rock strata (the earth's crust), an identifier for the new geological age - the Anthropocene.

To re-occupy this identifier of our age, the project suggests genetically modifying a chicken with pink bones and feathers, using a gene from the insect cochineal to produce a pigment that will be fossilized when combined with the calcium of the bone.

Spreading this gene with the newly invented CRISPR gene-drive technique, the species could be permanently altered, on a global scale, in just a few years.

Thereby colouring the stratum of the Anthropocene pink.

The DNA also carries a message, a call for change on a planet with unjust power balance.

Help us accelerate this effort by ordering your own pink egg!

 
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Why?


Why?


 

WHY?

Human actions have altered the Earth so profoundly that we have entered a new geological epoch - the Anthropocene.

The stability of the biosphere is threatened, with an uncomfortably high probability of an uninhabitable planet within the next century.

This devastation will leave traces in the rock strata for geologists of the future: such as plastic pollution, soot from power stations, nuclear fallout, and surprisingly, the fossilized bones of the global proliferation of the domestic chicken.

The pink chicken carries a message in it’s DNA, encoded into As, Ts, Gs, and Cs, a time capsule readable for thousands of years:

We the humans of planet earth, write this message at the beginning of the Anthropocene.

The current devastation of the planet is not the result of activities undertaken by the whole species Homo Sapiens: instead it derives from a small group of humans in power. We urge you to fight this oppression: for it enables and aggravates the anthropocentric violence forced upon the non-human world.

Sent in hope that you have re-imagined us as a biological organism, joined in symbiosis with each other and the planet.”

With the power of the CRISPR gene-drive technique, the traces of humanity is no longer in the hands of Monsanto and Dupont, the radiation of nuclear bombs or the oil spills of Exxon Mobil, but also in yours.

 
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Strata


Stratum of the Anthropocene

Strata


Stratum of the Anthropocene

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Drill core


Drill core from year 4796

Drill core


Drill core from year 4796

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How?


How?


HOW?

 

CRISPR is a recently invented genome editing tool, that is used to permanently modify genes in living cells and organisms. When used in a particular way, it creates a genetic system known as a gene drive.

This “drive” greatly enhances the spread of the genetic modification, to the extent that it can fully propagate to all individuals of a species in just 12-19 generations.

With CRISPR gene drives, we now have the tool to alter almost any gene in any sexually reproducing species and spread that alteration through wild populations over generations, permanently altering the entire species.

Normal inheritance - pink gene doesn't spread

Normal inheritance - pink gene doesn't spread

Gene drive inheritance - alteration becomes permanent

Gene drive inheritance - alteration becomes permanent

An offspring of our pink chicken will inherit one drive-containing and one wild-type chromosome. The drive contains a CRISPR system that cuts the wild-type chromosome, causing the cell to copy the drive when it uses the drive- containing chromosome as a template to repair the damage. Because it now has two copies of the drive (and the pink gene), all of the organism’s offspring will inherit a drive-containing chromosome to repeat the process.

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This procedure is not complicated. It does not require any expensive equipment, the reagents and DNA sequences are cheap and there are currently no regulations.

Theoretically, one gene-drive chicken is enough to change the color of the entire species. The short lifespan of the broiler chicken (6 weeks) makes it a good target for gene-drive, spreading to all individuals on the order of a few years.

We target a sequence only expressed in the osteoblasts (bone cells) of the chicken, so that the pink pigment is only produced in the bone. The gene for the pink colour is extracted from the insect cochineal, that produces a chemical called carminic acid. The acid, when combined with the calcium of the bone, forms carmine dye, one of the most light- and heat-stable and oxidation-resistant of all the natural organic colourants. Carmine (the pink pigment) is a also common food colorant (E120). It safe to eat, and not harmful for the chicken.

 
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Order Egg


ORDER EGG

Order Egg


ORDER EGG

 

Due to the power of gene-drives, they are a controversial topic. There is currently a discussion if and how they could be regulated. It is important to think thoroughly about how we should approach this new power.

What do you think?

Would you like to accelerate this effort by ordering your own pink egg?

Write a short motivation describing why/why not in the message box below, and we will get back to you!

Would you like an egg? *
 

References


References


REFERENCES

GENE DRIVES:

Kahn, J. (February 2016). Gene editing can now change an entire species — forever. TED. https://www.ted.com/talks/jennifer_kahn_gene_editing_can_now_change_an_entire_species_forever

Borel, B. (12 September 2016) When Evolution Fights Back Against Genetic Engineering. The Atlantic Online. https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/09/gene-drives/499574/

FAQs: Gene drives. Wyss Institute. https://wyss.harvard.edu/staticfiles/newsroom/pressreleases/Gene%20drives%20FAQ%20FINAL.pdf

Oye et. al. (08 Aug 2014) Regulating gene drives. Science. Vol. 345, Issue 6197, pp. 626-628. DOI: 10.1126/science.1254287

Reardon, S. (March 9, 2016) Welcome to CRISPR's Gene-Modified Zoo. Scientific American. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/welcome-to-crispr-s-gene-modified-zoo/

ETC Group (08 June 2016) Stop The Gene Bomb! ETC Group Comment on NAS Report on Gene Drives http://www.etcgroup.org/content/stop-gene-bomb-etc-group-comment-nas-report-gene-drives

CRISPR:

Oishi et. al. (06 April 2016) Targeted mutagenesis in chicken using CRISPR/Cas9 system DOI:10.1038/srep23980

ANTHROPOCENE:

Will Steffen, Paul J. Crutzen and John R. McNeill. (2007). The Anthropocene: Are Humans Now Overwhelming the Great Forces of Nature? Royal Swedish Academy of 2007. Ambio Vol. 36, No. 8, December 2007. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18240674

Rockström, J. (30 March 2015) Big World, Small Planet: Abundance Within Planetary Boundaries. Lecture at Centre for International Governance Innovation. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOJYWDsQD4s

Steffen, W. et. al. (13 Feb 2015) Planetary boundaries: guiding human development on a changing planet. Science:Vol. 347, Issue 6223, DOI: 10.1126/science.1259855

Steffen, W. Broadgate, L. Deutsch, O. Gaffney, C. Ludwig. (2015) The Trajectory of the Anthropocene: the Great Acceleration. The Anthropocene Review. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/2053019614564785

Heather Davis, H. Turpin, E. (2015). Art in the Anthropocene: Encounters Among Aesthetics, Politics, Environments and Epistemologies. Open Humanities Press.

DEFINING THE ANTHROPOCENE:

Waters, C. N. The Anthropocene is functionally and stratigraphically distinct from the Holocene. Science  08 Jan 2016: Vol. 351, Issue 6269 DOI: 10.1126/science.aad2622

Biello, D. (7 January 2016) Humans Leave a Telltale Residue on Earth. Scientific American. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/humans-leave-a-telltale-residue-on-earth1/

Williams, M. et. al. (2015) The Anthropocene biosphere. The Anthropocene Review. Vol 2, Issue 3, pp. 196 - 219. 10.1177/2053019615591020

William F. Ruddiman, Erle C. Ellis, Jed O. Kaplan, Dorian Q. Fuller (03 Apr 2015) Defining the epoch we live in. Science, Vol. 348, Issue 6230, pp. 38-39 DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa7297

CHICKEN DEFINING THE ANTHROPOCENE:

Carrington, D. (29 August 2016) The Anthropocene epoch: scientists declare dawn of human- influenced age. The Guardian Online. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/aug/29/declare-anthropocene-epoch-experts-urge-geological-congress-human-impact-earth

Carrington, D. (31 August 2016) How the domestic chicken rose to define the Anthropocene. The Guardian online. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/aug/31/domestic-chicken-anthropocene-humanity-influenced-epoch

CHICKENS IN THE WORLD:

Andrew Lawler, Jerry Adler. (June 2012) How the Chicken Conquered the World. Smithsonian Magazine. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/how-the-chicken-conquered-the-world-87583657

(Jul 27th 2011) Counting chickens. The Economist Online. http://www.economist.com/blogs/dailychart/2011/07/global-livestock-counts

Susan M. Kidwell. (2015) Biology in the Anthropocene: Challenges and insights from young fossil records. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. http://www.pnas.org/content/112/16/4922

DATA STORAGE:

Yaniv Erlich,Dina Zielinski (2017). DNA Fountain enables a robust and efficient storage architecture. Science 03 Mar 2017: Vol. 355, Issue 6328, pp. 950-954, DOI: 10.1126/science.aaj2038 http://science.sciencemag.org/content/355/6328/950

Byrgess, M. (3 March 2017) A movie, operating system and Amazon gift card have been stored in DNA. Wired Magazine Online. http://www.wired.co.uk/article/dna-data-storage

M. E. Allentoft, et. al. (2012) The half-life of DNA in bone: measuring decay kinetics in 158 dated fossils. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 279(1748):4724– 4733. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23055061

FOSSILIZING PIGMENTS:

Colleary, Caitlin et. al. (September 28, 2015) Chemical, experimental, and morphological evidence for diagenetically altered melanin in exceptionally preserved fossils. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1509831112

Steven Mackay (September 29, 2015) Pigment from fossils reveals color of extinct mammals for the first time, researchers say. Virginia Tech. http://www.vtnews.vt.edu/articles/2015/09/092915-research-fossilcolor.html

OBJECT ORIENTED ONTOLOGY:

Latour, B. Agency at the Time of the Anthropocene. New Literary History, Volume 45, Number 1, Winter 2014, pp. 1-18 (Article).

Morton, T. (2013). Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World. University Of Minnesota Press.

Szerszynski, B (2016). The Anthropocene monument: on relating geological and human time. European Journal of Social Theory.