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Last week the Chlorine-Washed Chicken finally displaced President Donald Trump as the UK middle class’s supreme international hate figure. The Chlorine-Washed Chicken set up its own Twitter account and it promptly accrued thirty-five million followers. Its tweets – inasmuch as a cluck can be a tweet – rocked the planet:

Chlorine-Washed Chicken
@realChlorineWashedChicken Jul 31 Going for a lovely disinfectant dip! Haters say I’m too clean. #StinkyLosers #FakeNews

And here it comes now – staggering over the international stage, shedding its hideous shadow across the entire country. It swats helicopters out of the way with a damp flurry of chemicalised feathers. The pavements shake. Too fat to walk properly, it bumps and scrapes off buildings. The terrified middle-classes try to build barricades in the streets. They try to fortify their hummus parlours and organic smoothie bars. They shudder with snobbish despair at the Chlorine-Washed Chicken’s vulgar, all-too-American squawks. It is no good. Leaving a trail of wreckage in its wake, the Chlorine-Washed Chicken lurches up to the hall where the Food Standards committee is in session and drops a huge egg on it.

Just forget about the Chlorine-Washed Chicken! Just forget about it. There is something embarrassing about it – or about the spectacle that our country is making out of itself – that will cause you to wince and bite your lip and turn your face away. We are supposed to be negotiating new opportunities with our potential trading partners. It should be a time for openness and intellectual curiosity. Instead, fervent opponents of the Chlorine-Washed Chicken have suddenly appeared from out of nowhere, like a brigade of chanting pygmies, to hog the UK media with their weird priorities and creepy paternalism. Just think how it must look to our trading partners. It must look, in a word, off-putting.

You might think that, with the ubiquity of food banks, a greater industrialisation of chicken production would allow more people to put chicken on the table. The European Food Standards Agency itself ruled in 2005 that the Chlorine-Washed Chicken “does not present any risk to public health.” The UK’s drinking water is, obviously, washed in chlorine. But foes of the Chicken are really enacting a needy, self-justifying fantasy in which they simultaneously infantalise and parent future consumers. Metaphorically, the grotesque Chlorine-Washed Chicken, that eats so much that it cannot walk, is slyly interchangeable with the same UK shopper who will supposedly eat it. The mindless shopper who must have their mechanical, self-destructive urges curbed by paternalistic supervisors. If this was taken to its logical conclusion, then we would need Nick Clegg to do all our shopping for us.

In my recommended spirit of intellectual openness, I want to ask if a future transatlantic trade deal will at last let me buy a genetically modified glow-in-the-dark goldfish.

The glow-in-the-dark fish was invented in 1999 in Singapore. It was not God nipping back for an eighth day of Creation, to submit an item that He had originally forgotten, but one Dr. Zhiyuan Gong, an expert in genetics. In the course of some serious research into manipulating fish to react to pollution levels, Gong and his colleagues had added fluorescence-producing proteins to a zebrafish embryo. The result: a glow-in-the-dark zebrafish (I am using the term “goldfish” somewhat liberally). It took four years for the fish to progress from a lab experiment to a vendible pet.

The USA’s Food and Drug Administration found that, “they pose no threat to the food supply… [there is] no reason to regulate these particular fish.” GloFish are now bought, sold, and hugely enjoyed all around the USA. But due to the EU’s bigotry towards genetically modified organisms, the glow-in-the-dark goldfish cannot currently flap a fin throughout our own continent.

Shirlie Sharpe provides a good overview of the opposition to glow-in-the-dark fish:

Many feel that selling genetic altered fish is not only ethically wrong, but it sends the wrong message to children. Others feel that any alteration of a living creature is an abuse of the power we have over life and consider it nothing short of biological pollution. Still others express concerns that if glowing fish becomes popular, what will be next – glow in the dark cats and dogs? Where will the line be drawn?

Zebrafish are natural and fluorescent jellyfish are natural. Henceforth no aspect of the GloFish is innately objectionable – it is rather the Humanist means rather than the actual end that offends. And a glow-in-the-dark cat or dog? Oh, the thrill of the frontier! Maybe the artists of the future will abandon their paintboxes in order to weave beautiful visions out of genes.

Liam Fox, the International Trade Secretary, should make the GloFish his priority. He should stride into top-table meetings, brandishing bulging sheaths of documents about goldfish requirements. I want a glow-in-the-dark goldfish! In fact, once I have one, I want more! More and more! Hundreds!

Just listen to the names from the brochure – Galactic Purple, Starfire Red, Electric Green. They are like swimming lipsticks! My apartment will become an underwater palace of eerily unreal colours. I would eat a whole battery farm of chickens that are drowned in pine disinfectant if I could read my Jules Verne by light of fluorescent fish.

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