Teenage Mutant Tree Frogs

Teenage Mutant Tree Frogs
​Have you seen this article?
I recently saw this article in my local newspaper, the Columbian. The article talks about Josiah Zayner, founder of The Odin company, and his use of green tree frogs in genetics-altering experiments.  He uses tree frogs to see if he can genetically alter their genes, and to grow additional tissue and muscle mass. But that is not the unsettling part for me; it is that his company is selling kits in hopes of teaching kids, families, schools, or anyone about gene-editing. Each kit contains six tree frogs, two cages, and all of the paraphernalia to alter the frogs genetically. ​

Me being me, I was pretty upset after reading the article. I am against the use of animals for testing and experiment purposes. However, I have been trying to think about and view this article from different points of views. Can we learn something from this, can it be used for good, or can these experiments be conducted in another way, without the use of nonhuman animals? We are one of the most scientific and technologically advanced countries.
​I understand scientists need to study the growth of tissues and muscles. I realize the importance it could have in the medical world. I also recognize the importance of science education to the general public and within schools. In the end, I can’t get past the use of tiny green tree frogs for a five-week experiment, with the only results being stated on the website as an alteration in growth hormones to increase tissue and muscle mass. Hasn’t this already been done in other labs, tested on other animals, or grown in a petri dish? What purpose does a publicly available kit serve? After reading the article, and researching on the website, I don’t find any valuable takeaways or learning outcomes.

I still have unanswered questions:

  • What happens to frogs after the five week experiment? The website doesn’t state what do with the frogs, only that if cared for properly, the frogs can live upwards of ten years. This experiment only lasts five weeks! I did read that they can be euthanized in the solution and then flushed down the toilet if necessary. 
  • What purpose does this serve? Why does the general public need to know how to alter genes?
  • How will genetically engineered animals help us in the future? Most experiments on animals don’t have conclusive test results that help humans – here are even a few articles stating that – NPR and Psychology Today
  • Since this is open to the general public, what is stopping someone from experimenting on other animals (humans included) or perhaps their little brother?

To me, this further teaches and solidifies the view that nonhuman animals are just commodities and are here for human use in any form. There are already over 115 millions nonhuman animals being held and used in labs for experiments worldwide each year. 

I have spent hours on the trails near my home photographing tree frogs. It never once occurred to me to pluck them from their natural habitat, keep them in a cage, put them under anesthesia, and inject them with a solution to see muscle and tissue mass grow.
​Is it just me, or do others feel that way?

What do you think? I honestly want to know your opinion, even if it does not align or agree with mine. How do you think this will help? Comment below!

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