For seven months, a group of well-heeled tricksters posed as a shoe wear company to spark a debate about the exploitation of genetically modified animals for commercial consumption.

It’s not clear the tricksters succeeded in provoking a significant conversation, but almost 10,000 people used Rayfish Footwear’s fully functional website to design their own pair of sneakers made out of stingray leather they were told would be grown according to patterns they selected. The media jumped on the story, with many taking the provocative bait without confirming the possibility of transgenic design with leading scientists.

Months rolled by before the company was deemed a hoax. Within that time, the organizers staged a break-in by animal rights activists that led to the apparent release of the genetically altered animals into their natural habitat. The group peppered the Web with videos it claimed were shot by tourists and fishermen showing the released stingrays in the wild. In time, the company went “bankrupt” and the “making of” video, seen below, was released.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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