Bio-modified Weed, detects Landmines

Posted by Mike Kremer on Jan 29, 2004 at 12:14

Some useful news from Denmark, where a biotech company has put genetic engineering to work for something useful, other than filling the coffers of the likes of Monsanto. "Aresa Biodetection" of Copenhagen has designed a special flower to detect landmines, using genetically modified Thale cress weed that changes colour when the plant's roots come into contact with the nitrogen-dioxide given out by buried explosives. The rapidly growing plants take three to six weeks to grow, with its flowers turning red whenever it is growing close to a mine. Given the millions of landmines scattered over the world's trouble spots, in places such as Cambodia, Angola and Bosnia, the plant could enable the rapid and cheap identification of minefields. According to the Red Cross, 26,000 people are killed or injured by mines every year. The genetically modified plant is also designed to be infertile, to stop the weed spreading.

An infertile plant? So who's going to risk planting the weed?

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