The oceans are full of plastic. In a story about the morals of DNA changes, one scientist meaning well creates a group of super bacteria/microorganisms (afterwards just called bacteria for simplicity sake). Once released in each of the oceanic garbage patches they eat through all available plastic in about 5 years. It can differ per patch size of course, but let's not get too bogged into these specifics. Thanks to this rapid breaking down of plastic I expect an environmental impact.
I would like the result to be overheard in the story. Breaking down so much plastic cannot be healthy for the environment. It might not spread too easily as it's often in relatively stable ocean environments, but I do expect some spread of the resulting remains.
Keep in mind that this question is not about the bacteria spreading, but just the effect of the broken down plastic.
I did some research, but could only find pop articles that mostly do not truly talk about the resulting remains of broken down plastic. I once remember reading that one of the byproducts was still toxic, but I am unable to find it. At best I found that breaking down plastic offers other toxic products, but no specifics. Even without direct toxicity I expect the huge influx of the broken down plastic will have an impact.
- The scientist is a smart man, making the best choices available, but will take the step of spreading the bacteria.
- Scientist will make the bacteria with that has the least impactful method of breaking down the plastic.
- No one knows about it. They do know something is up thanks to satellite imaging seeing the patches shrink and samples of the water showing the broken down plastic, if not direct environmental impacts.
- Only the ocean garbage patches regarded as the largest are targeted.
- It isn't broken down into microplastics. It can no longer in any way be seen as a plastic.
- Unless you like looking into the slow start and increasing rapid breaking down of plastic as the bacteria spreads and grows in numbers, you can assume a linear consumption of the plastic in 5 years.