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The Tree of Eternal Life

Is a headstone just too archaic? For a more dynamic–and truly living–memorial, look no further than the back yard. Two students at the Royal College of Arts in London have received a grant from the UK’s National Endowment for Science,…

Is a headstone just too archaic? For a more dynamic–and truly living–memorial, look no further than the back yard. Two students at the Royal College of Arts in London have received a grant from the UK’s National Endowment for Science, Technology and Arts to set up a company to create apple trees that are genetically modified to carry a strand of human DNA. According to a report in The Guardian, the company, Biopresence, started as a student art project, but founders Georg Tremmel and Shiho Fukuhara hope orders will take off. Trees will cost about 20,000 pounds ($36,000)–“cheap for eternal life,” says Tremmel–and should take six months to grow large enough to plant in the ground.

The trees are the most recent example of the melding of art and biotechnology, a trend that has already seen a movement to help people copyright their own DNA, as well as the production of a rabbit genetically modified to produce a green fluorescent jellyfish protein.

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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