Wednesday, December 1, 2004

Genetic modification can be great

If you lived in places where landmines continue to regularly kill or maim members of your community, I bet you'd think these plants are really really cool.

colour-changing plants for landmine detection

"A Danish company, Aresa Biodetection, has developed genetically-modified flowers that change color when their roots come in contact with nitrogen dioxide in the soil. Explosives used in mines produce NO2 as the chemicals gradually decay. The company plans to sow fields of NO2-sniffing Arabidopsis thaliana (Thale or mouse cress) in areas riddled with long-forgotten ordinance from Angola to Cambodia.

The effort's life- and limb-saving potential is staggering: More than 100 million land mines kill or injure 26,000 people in 45 countries each year. Today's most popular detection method is poking around with a stick."

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