Vegetation Finds Landmines 2004-01-26Posted by clype in Gizmo, Intolerance, Science.
According to the team at Aresa, a bio-technology company in Copenhagen, the GM plant changes colour when its roots come into contact with nitrogen-dioxide — a chemical used in explosives.
It took the scientists almost three years to genetically develop the Thale Cress plant for landmine detection. Aresa chief executive Simon Oostergaard said he hoped the plant would help save lives:
‘I hope the plant will be used in the search for landmines, especially in agricultural areas.
‘We first plan to test it in small controlled areas. If it does as we predict then we will use it to search for landmines around the world’.
There are believed to be over 100 million unexploded landmines hidden in the soil of around 75 countries world wide. Clearing the ground to cultivate the soil is difficult and dangerous work.
Oostergaard said initial testing would take place in Bosnia, Sri Lanka and parts of Africa.
The genetically modified plant changes its colour from green to red within three to five weeks from the time its roots come into contact with the landmine.
The scientists have also ensured that the plant cannot spread without the help of a human hand.
‘This is vital as we have to be able to control where we plant it’, said Oostergaard.
Denmark’s Red Cross Association has hailed the plant as “revolutionary” and says if it works it could save and change thousands of lives across the globe.