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  • G®FRP: The GloFish® Freedom and Reconciliation Project:GMO, Let 'em go
  • Adam Zaretsky (bio)

I had it in my head, but I had to really do it. I did it too. I let some GloFish® go in the Gulf of Mexico: one male and three females, all Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO). Not the cheesy Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) or the yellow ribbon Yellow Fluorescent Protein (YFP) but big, old, commie Red Fluorescent Protein (RFP) expressing, vertebrate internationalists... and I let 'em go in the brackish waters of the Gulf Coast. Yeah, I bought some transgenic beings their freedom. I bought them at a local pet store in Corpus Christi, Texas. I rolled up my pants and waded into the gulf with my mixed, inbred, interspecies cousins. I immersed the plastic bag of Starfire Red® Zebrafish in the waters to acclimatize. Then I popped the bag and let them go. They swam off. Was the modified family welcomed in their new environs? Did foreign GMO species have trouble integrating? Is there a living brood of intentionally released, different colored fish in the Deep South?

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Figure 1.

G®FRP Intentional Release Document, 2010. (Courtesy of Adam Zaretsky)

Risk Assessment versus Mutant Animal Rights

If the GloFish® Freedom and Reconciliation Project is an act of political art, the argument about intentional release would not be complete without a comparison between the risk GMOs pose to the environment and the need to liberate those entertainingly contained personish beings: GloFish. Humans have forced added value upon the GloFish by jamming the flow of hereditary mutation upon them in accordance with anthropocentric desires and other equally sick pleasures ( Without the benefits of 3.5 billion years of beta testing, releasing them into the ecosphere is pollution. But, from a GloFish-centric perspective, they deserve to live outside of command and control: the farm, the store, the suburban house, and the sacrificial toilet bowl. They are fish. They are not automatons, but kinds of personages...just like you and me. If hot-swapping anatomical curiosities for free-range diaspora leads to habitat turbulence and eventually to reduction of biodiversity, that is the price of respect for difference.

Speed-mixing of traits does breed inherently irresponsible, interspecies hazards. Ought it be forbidden to free the non-things after painful and frivolous experimentation because they pose a risk to the barely known environment? Sure, they have built-in reproductive potentials, but this is all the more reason for their exterior existence. Transgenic life should have a chance to run wild for its own sake, not just for the sake of profit. Mutants on the range are more important than environmental stability because defects Я us! After all, we used to be worms. We have grown, over time, into surprisingly odd, fucked-up globs of extras: senses, brains, emotions, elbows, and big toes. Let difference reign supreme. Applaud new anatomy. Otherwise we must wipe out the rock snot of the lab and categorically stop the production of any ugly, [End Page 2] unassimilated, invasive species. Can you decide? Are GloFish® proud rebels or are GloFish® a local Gulf Coast disease, a swimming red tide, a threat to indigenous, market hugging, heritage-KKK populations? What are we to do with the afterbirth of a nation?

Is the creation of a toxic Gulf of Mexico an ecological art?

Ding, dong, the Gulf is dead. BP killed my GloFish® artworks. What does it mean to contemplate the British Petroleum oil spill, the intentional GloFish® release, and other corporate and grassroots environmental wastage as a kind of sadistic art brut? Is the industrial creation of wastelands, landfills, toxic watersheds, genocidal disregard of human and nonhuman life forms still codifiable as creative commentary on eco-political relations? In essence, is pollution just a by-product of industrialization or is it an intentionally cruel aesthetic realized as time-based, new media, air-water-soil-cancer art? Can we thank corporate deregulation for DHOSPP (the Deepwater Horizons Oil Spill Performance Project) as a free-to-the-public version of Artaud's theatre of cruelty?

Neither humor, nor poetry, nor imagination means anything unless, by an anarchistic destruction...


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