Genetically Modified Seaweed Gets Loose… Wrecking Oceans Everywhere…

Back in the early 1980’s, the Wilhelmina Zoo in Stuttgart was looking into various types of seaweed for use in their aquarium displays… They settled on a species known as Caulerpa taxifolia, since its bright green, feathery fern-like fronds were quite pretty, and it was both hardy and fast-growing. In addition, it produces chemicals that make it taste awful to marine animals, so it wouldn’t get eaten.


By repeatedly subjecting specimens to harsh aquarium conditions and selecting the ones that survived the best, researchers developed Caulerpa taxifolia (Vahl) C. Agandh, a new-and-improved, genetically distinct strain which was particularly hardy and fast-growing. This variety was ideal for their purposes and it was shared with other museums and aquariums. For a time, all was well and good in the world of marine botany. In 1984, however, a square meter patch of this new variety of Caulerpa was found in the Mediterranean off the shore of Monaco, right outside the Oceanographic Museum.

Evidently a little piece of it was flushed down a drain. But while those organizations involved in dealing with the accidental release exercised their blame-pointing fingers, Caulerpa spread. It was, after all, particularly hardy and fast-growing. By the time anyone got around to doing anything about it, the infestation covered several acres and was beyond anyone’s control. By 2001, there were thousands of acres of this remarkably prolific plant clogging coastal waters around the Mediterranean. (READ MORE)

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