Monsanto today announced their latest innovation in genetic modification: a human baby that will never cry. Investors on Wall Street cheered the news, moving shares higher by 4.2% to close at $105.22 (NYSE: MON).
According to the press release, the company got regulatory approval today after a 2 week public comment period closed last week. It plans to begin development of the “No cry babyTM” this month, and expects market release in the U.S. sometime in spring 2014, with initial estimates putting the retail price at $22,900.
“Obviously, we’re thrilled,” said Derrick Flowbottom, PR director at Monsanto, in the press release. “We really think we’ve solved one of society’s greatest annoyances. Imagine how much better flying will be! Responsible parents won’t make people like you sit next to their screaming child anymore.”
According to an interview I conducted with Flowbottom, the company almost gave up on the project, dubbed “Operation Scream”, after years of testing, but made substantial progress last year, and executives made the critical decision to extend R&D funding for one more year in the hopes of creating the next blockbuster GMO item. The key innovation came in November, when the company’s scientists began splicing rabbit genes into human fetus genomes. Rabbits, long the subject of cosmetic testing due to a lack of tear ducts, were a natural choice.
The company says the babies will be, in all other ways, “just about identical” to regular human babies, just better, since they won’t be crying all the time. In addition, No Cry BabyTM will exhibit 64.2% less screaming, according to initial field trials.
The company’s history with genetic modification is not without its critics. The nonprofit group NonGMO Project criticized Monsanto’s latest innovation in much the same way it’s criticized other GMO patents, saying in a press release:
With all due respect to Monsanto’s bioengineering accomplishments, we feel that further testing of the No Cry BabyTM might benefit the public. Do we really know if they’re safe?
Dr. Heinrik Paithosike at HGML (Monsanto’s Human Genome Modification Laboratory), was credited with the critical breakthrough that led to the patenting of the No Cry BabyTM. Paithosike was awarded a front row parking spot for 2 months at the Lab, will have the following picture emblazoned on the Employee of the Month plaque above the water cooler at HGML, and received a $25 bonus check from the company for establishing the patent.
People interested in pre-ordering a No Cry Baby can do so on Monsanto’s eCommerce site. Discounts of 15% were rumored to appear within a few days, and sales are expected to be brisk. Standard & Poor’s upgraded Monsanto’s rating to “Strong buy” from “Hold”, where it had previously rated the company for flat sales and what it referred to as an “innovation morasse”.
Happy April Fools, everyone. 🙂