a speculative future cryptocurrency that uses blockchain to decentralize the agriculture system. CryptoCrop miners edit the genes of seeds so that farmers can have open access to a printable GMO template.
My roles included research, systems mapping and working with the team on final concepts. Team members: Runshei Wei, Gustave Ole Grimm Dyrhauge, Zihan Chen.
The team's goal was to reimagine the agriculture system 50 years from today with an emphasis on innovations in biotech.
Humans have been genetically modifying things for centuries. Selective breeding and even sex shake up DNA and are both forms of genetic modification. Species’ genomes in nature are in constant flux. And so, the genetic modification of crops shouldn’t be met with such abrasion. But still, why is there such resistance by the market to GMOs? Part of the problem could be centralization. Not only is the agriculture system a monopoly mainly being controlled by four biotech companies, but the market sentiment of GMOs was largely determined across four years, from 1996, one of the first years U.S. farmers grew GMOs, to the year 2000.
It only took 4 years for the organic community to refuse GMOs based their supposed “unnatural process”,and so the United States Department of Agriculture made illegal GMOs on certified organic acres. This begs 3 questions: “what do they mean by unnatural, what is organic, and what is GMO?” All forms of farming are by definition modifications of nature. But GMO’s and organic have been operating within a false dichotomy ever since. And there is even less consensus now among the academic community as there was then about what natural means.
The future system we envision is one in which people are able to print their own genetically modified seeds. Gene editing by individuals will be feasible in this future world. We will compare this future 3-D printer to a modern 3-D printer. In a decentralized, crypto currency system, farmers begin with germplasm, the base ingredient of seed breeders today. Using this 3-D printer analogy, germplasm is the resin used to 3-D print objects today. In this the peer-2-peer system, those that mine the cryptocurrency Cryptocrop add value by gene-editing. Modern cryptocurrency miners collect coins by solving laborious and intentionally defeating computational math problems. In our world, instead of this “proof of work” as it’s called, the value of Cryptocrop will be tied to the innovation in gene editing seeds. Those capable of individual gene editing will submit their work to the system, adding value to the system and collecting Cryptocrop if their work is submitted into the blockchain. Farmers who buy a strand of Cryptocrop access the DNA template and once purchased, can 3-D print the seed. This decentralizes the patent control of biotech companies like Monsanto and disperses their power across this peer-2-peer network.