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Emmanuel Brousse
News | 1er mars

The plant that thought it was a light bulb
Will geraniums replace conventional light sources soon? The start-up Glowing Plant thinks so and commercialises its first shoots.

Will geraniums replace conventional light sources soon? The start-up Glowing Plant thinks so and commercialises its first shoots. © Caroline Bittner
They aimed at 65.000 dollars and finally harvested 480.000. The Glowing Plant firm has more than accomplished its fund raising campaign on Kickstarter. Indeed, their project is tempting: Selling light-producing plants which don’t need any particular maintenance and furthering research to transform the plants into a light source that could one day replace common light solutions.
But the time when geraniums light up our streets hasn’t come yet. For now, Glowing Plant is about to commercialise a flower pot containing the Arabidopsis species, a relative of the mustard plant, for 100 dollars, as well as kits containing between 50 and 100 seeds for 40 dollars. And for 300 dollars, the most adventurous clients can buy a tool box containing all the material needed to insert the fluorescence gene into their own plants. Moreover, the company publishes all its work, the DNA of its plants included, on an open source platform so that everyone can improve or reuse their plants.
Not everyone welcomes the initiative. The perspective of thousands of amateur botanists playing the sorcerer’s apprentices and threatening to deregulate the existing ecosystems with genetically modified plants has mobilized more than 14.000 people who signed a petition for Kickstarter to stop the project. The crowd funding platform has not prevented the Glowing Plant fundraising campaign, but it has committed to no longer support projects related to GMOs.
Revolutionary green technology or threat to the environment? It’s too early to judge. But for now, the luminescent mustard won’t take root in France since the rules on the importation of genetically modified plants are very strict. Thus, using an Arabidopsis to light your living room in Paris won’t be possible in the near future – unless you move to the United States.
Crédits photo : Caroline Bittner
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