Landmine-detecting plant grown

Thursday, 22 April, 2004

Danish researchers claim they have produced a plant that can help detect landmines by changing its colour from green to red when its roots come in contact with explosives.

Scientists at Aresa, a small biotechnology firm in Copenhagen, have worked on the genetically-modified plant for nearly three years, hoping their discovery would help reduce the number of people hurt by stepping on forgotten explosives.

Some 100 million unexploded landmines are believed to be lurking in the soil of about 75 countries the world over and clearing them to cultivate the soil is difficult and dangerous work.

Initial testing will take place in Bosnia, Sri Lanka and parts of Africa.

The discovery is based on genetic engineering of the plant Thale Cress, scientifically known as Arabidopsis thaliana.

The genetically-modified plant changes its colour from green to red within three to five weeks of growth when its roots come in contact with NO2, a chemical group present in explosives.

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