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Genetically Modified Flower Detects Landmines

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the don't-step-on-the-red-ones dept.

Biotech 518

cdneng2 writes "Yahoo has the story that a Danish company has developed a plant that can detect landmines. The genetically modified weed that has been coded to change color when its roots come in contact with nitrogen-dioxide (NO2) evaporating from explosives buried in soil." The company website has a bit more information.

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fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8104012)

fp! yahoo

That is INSANE. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8104019)

Does the entire plant change color or what? First post, who am I kidding ;>

Re:That is INSANE. (4, Informative)

c_oflynn (649487) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104220)

If you were first post, that would mean you *should* have had lots of time that could have been spent reading the article.

Plants normally go red or redish in autumn where the red pigments dominate over the green ones, or as a result of stressed growth conditions. The genetically engineered plants are modified in a way that only allows these plants to go red if triggered by a specific stimulus present in the soil. The stimulus is unique to the plant dependent on the actual application that is pursued with the specific plant. Stimuli may be heavy metals, or NO2 that evaporates when explosives are reduced in the soil. Such stimuli trigger the production of a key-enzyme in the biochemical pathway responsible for production of the group of red pigments called anthocyanins. The resulting colour change is expected within 3-6 weeks dependent on the growth conditions.

What Happens (5, Funny)

City_Idiot (715795) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104020)

When the kids of 3 world countries run out into the fields to pick the flowers??

Re:What Happens (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8104143)

When the kids of 3[rd] world countries run out into the fields to pick the flowers??

Hilarity ensues.

Just kidding. [anti-slash.org]

Re:What Happens (4, Interesting)

Golias (176380) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104243)

When the kids of 3 world countries run out into the fields to pick the flowers??

Kind of puts a new twist on the old anti-Goldwater commercial, eh?

Any kid growing up in a country where landmines are a problem is probably very likely to listen to the nice soldiers that say "stay away from flowers that look like this... we grow them on mine fields."

The alternative is to further engineer the flowers to look or smell unpleasant, so kids will leave them alone.

Yes, but... (5, Funny)

dustmote (572761) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104022)

Who's going to volunteer to plant them? BOOOM!!! Still, this is a pretty neat idea. Might not be so good for people who are color-blind, like my dad. :)

Re:Yes, but... (1, Informative)

brinch (729945) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104108)

I am not a gardener, but i think the general idea behind weed is, that it is pretty effectively planting itself...

Re:Yes, but... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8104159)

I don't know about that...I've always had trouble with keeping weed alive, rather than it growing itself. My roommate might have something to do with that, though...dirty pothead.

Re:Yes, but... (4, Interesting)

SkArcher (676201) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104166)

RTA -the plant is infertile, so it won't spread into unwanted areas. They'll probably spread the seed from aircraft hoppers - it'll have a fairly light seed casing.

Re:Yes, but... (4, Funny)

GrenDel Fuego (2558) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104219)

Then you just have to worry about birds eating them.. but hey, if a bird explodes, you found a mine.

Re:Yes, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8104233)

it'll have a fairly light seed casing
you mean.. they're not using.. genetically modified COCONUTS! phew.

Re:Yes, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8104129)

When's the last time you've planted a dandilion? Weeds tend to spread, well, like weeds.

Re:Yes, but... (2, Funny)

mlush (620447) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104134)

Who's going to volunteer to plant them? BOOOM!!!

somehow I think landmines will not blow up if a small weed seed falls on them

Re:Yes, but... (1)

dustmote (572761) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104236)

Oh, sure, if you want to do things the easy way...(rolls eyes)

In all honesty, this didn't even occur to me until after I hit "submit", for some reason. Still, it made for a pretty Monty-Python-esque mental picture for a while:
"And now Mr. Johnson will present the proper way to plant land mine detecting flowers."

Re:Yes, but... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8104205)

straight from the article.

--------------
Oestergaard said the problem of sowing the seeds in a potential land mine could be overcome by clearing strips through a field by conventional methods or by using crop planes.
--------------

yes, i'm new here, i did rtfa!

Seed from the air (1)

FatHogByTheAss (257292) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104206)

No sacrificial gardeners needed.

Scatter the seeds by plane. (1)

sulli (195030) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104208)

Then watch them bloom.

Re:Yes, but... (4, Funny)

synth7 (311220) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104241)

Who's going to volunteer to plant them?

Ah, yes... the brainpower of geekus maximus shows that it needs to get out of the house a little more often. You see, plants produce these little things called "seeds" which are actually baby plants in hibernation. These "seeds" typically germinate when sitting in suitable soil... it all depends upon the plant itself, of course: a scrub grass or low-lying shrub will grow in pretty harsh places.

Anyhow, I hope you can see where this is leading. Plants tend to reproduce on their own without the need for human intervention. Of course, if you really wanted these plants to grow in a location, you could always try something innovative like flying overhead and sprinkling a mixtures of seed and fertilizer on the patch of land in question. It may take several years for the plant to get established and spread, but, well, I don't think anyone would complain about turning this particular patch of land over to these weeds for a time, as it's a bit tricky to use it for anything with all those mines in it anyhow.

Honestly, at least half a dozen people have posted "How are they going to plant it?!?" without ever bothering to stop and think for a second. What is this, Fark.com?

Spirit of Diana Spencer (3, Insightful)

The I Shing (700142) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104026)

I wish Diana Spencer were alive to see this development. I bet she would have gotten other celebrities to underwrite the use of this technology to save countless lives worldwide. But luckily there are other wealthy individuals who might undertake an experiment with this plant, and make that company rich in the process (which is, in the words of Stuart Smalley, "okay").

Elton John will write a song about it, too.

Nice to see a company making a bio weapon that helps people instead of making them die horribly and slowly.

Re:Spirit of Diana Spencer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8104136)

I wish people would shut up about her. I'm bored of being told she was an angel or wtf ever. Shes dead, she did some good before dying, but now shes dead. just leave it alone already, or go back to worshipping elvis.

KEEP MOVING!!! (3, Interesting)

docbrown42 (535974) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104031)

Stop to smell the roses, and go BOOM? :) Actually, this is a pretty smart idea. Maybe they should code it into something really fast growing, like kudzu. -Ed

All hail the purple death poppy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8104032)

How far do the roots grow from the plant, exactly?

The roots wouldn't have to grow very far (1)

trobrannus (624242) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104250)

Landmines are usually placed fairly close to the surface - if the plants are seeded fairly thickly they should get everything in a given area.

But can it detect a true terrorist? (-1)

Seth Finklestein (582901) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104035)

I developed a flower that changes colour when it detects the foul stench of poor leadership. If you plant it in the United States of America, it dies immediately.

Sincerely,
Seth Finklestein
Political Commentator

FP? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8104039)

first post for the jihad!

Anti-Slash [anti-slash.org]

Maybe they should have used a .. (1)

i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104044)

chrysanthemum in there somewhere. You know like the firework explosion?

But.... (1)

QuasiCoLtd (727325) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104045)

The real question is who's going to plant the flowers? Seems like the gardener will discover landmines well before the flowers have a chance.....

Re:Aeral Seeding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8104109)

Seeing from massive drops via plane.

Re:But.... (2, Insightful)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104137)

If you'd read the article, it suggests using crop-dusting planes to plant the seeds. Then, when they see where the mines are, they not only can tell just where to dig, they can see how to get to them safely.

Why do they have to change color? (4, Funny)

Kaeru the Frog (152611) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104050)

Shouldn't the gardeners blowing up while planting flowers be enough?

Re:Why do they have to change color? (1)

daeley (126313) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104133)

"I'll be right there, just let me plant this last--" [PHOOM!]

Re:Why do they have to change color? (4, Informative)

lommer (566164) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104175)

I realize this is a joke, but to stem the flood of responses by people who didn't RTFA, here's the scoop:

You take a plane, fill it with seed "bomblets" and disperse them over a minefield. The bomblets embed in the soil and the plants grow. Within a few months you have a field of plants, a few of which are a different colour. The ones that have changed colour are close to mines. This makes finding the mines easier, and it also makes it possible to find a safe route through the field by only looking at the colour of the plants.

excellent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8104051)


This will do wonders for places like New Zealand, Utah, and Atlanta, where landmines have been laid so much that kids can no longer play outside. I heard Elijah Wood and the guy who played Sam were very seriously injured by a landmine on weathertop.

I can't help myself... (2, Funny)

10101001011 (744876) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104053)

Someone's going to be pushing up the daisies!

GM is good (2, Insightful)

pbrinich (238041) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104056)

Well, this might be one use of GM where the environmentalists can't complain much with all the children maimed and killed by these things each year...

Re:GM is good (0, Troll)

ryanjensen (741218) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104167)

... except that environmentalists don't actually care about people.

Re:GM is good (2, Funny)

Felix The Cat (9459) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104191)

Well, this might be one use of GM where the environmentalists can't complain much with all the children maimed and killed by these things each year...

Hrmph. Don't you believe it. There are people out there who would, in the words of my father, "bitch if you hung 'em with a new rope."

Re:GM is good (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8104225)

Why should environmentalists care? The US doesn't. You wouldn't be hypocritically holding environmentalists to a higher standard, would you?
And no GM is not good, and in this instance it will just be used to justfy more mines.

GM is quite good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8104254)

And no GM is not good, and in this instance it will just be used to justfy more mines.

GM is quite good. The opposition to it is one of the best examples of irrational hysteria going today.

I hope they can (1)

KingJoshi (615691) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104059)

detect the slashdotting that about to occur :)

Pick the flower (5, Funny)

c_oflynn (649487) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104060)

I can just see a field of flowers all one colour.

Then there is one flower that is a different colour, and you think its so unique. You go over to take a look at it...

On the topic of DNA (5, Interesting)

$calar (590356) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104062)

One of my professors does research in nanotechnology. He is currently growing nanotubes in his lab and one of the applications of this technology is as a detector, such as what this plant does, only at the nano-scale. Apparently when the technology matures, detectors of certain types of illnesses can be made. By a drop of blood on the detector, one can learn the results instantly instead of waiting for human analysis. Very cool.

Flower power? (2, Funny)

bdesham (533897) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104065)

"Flower-Power Could Help Clear Land mines"
Good, this sounds like a great excuse to blow up as many of these [deskpicture.com] as we possibly can.

:-)

God bless genetic engineering of weed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8104074)

The genetically modified weed has been coded to change color when its roots come in contact with nitrogen-dioxide.
It's also been genetically modified to produce a cleaner high when its smoke is inhaled. Then you get to see a lot of changes in color.

Drop them from planes over third world countries (2, Insightful)

Jonas the Bold (701271) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104081)

Use something like a crop duster at a highish altitude to drop the seeds all over large areas of land in third world countries. This will make demining so much easier.

If the environmentalists oppose this, if they can engineer the seeds so that the plants can't have offspring (I forget what the term is), they could drop a ton of seeds over a tract of land they plan to demine, and a few months later finding the mines will be very easy.

Re:Drop them from planes over third world countrie (3, Informative)

radicalskeptic (644346) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104207)

The article already states that these flowers cannot reproduce.

Re:Drop them from planes over third world countrie (1)

kevruse (44586) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104222)

If you RTFA you would have noticed that they modified these weeds so they can't reproduce. Kind of like in Jurassic Park.

Re:Drop them from planes over third world countrie (3, Insightful)

KReilly (660988) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104237)

But I wonder what happens when it misses some of the mines (E.g. Mines too deep, too new, plant did not grow close enough too it). That kind of defeats the purpose of doing this if they have to double back over the entire field to make sure they have not missed any. I think the idea is awesome, but not fool proof. And the fact that these seeds have to survive, and beat out other plants in the area. I think it is totally fascinating, and a creative idea, but seems to have a very small range of effective uses.

Re:Drop them from planes over third world countrie (1)

Jonas the Bold (701271) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104240)

Sorry for responding to my own post, I have something to add:

How can we know the plant will survive? Most areas of the word already have whatever vegetation they can support, so a random plant introduced there probably not survive:

The solution is simple: Just modify whatever naturally grows there. If you only add/change one gene, that changes the plant's color, you can also be sure the plant won't disrupt the ecosystem, it'll just be exactly the same plant that already grows there in a different color.

Re:Drop them from planes over third world countrie (1)

boredMDer (640516) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104245)

if they can engineer the seeds so that the plants can't have offspring (I forget what the term is)

Plant castration?

Big deal (4, Funny)

overshoot (39700) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104083)

The grass in my back yard turns green around land mines already.

OK, seriously, this is great. Too many kids are missing body parts from old munitions.

they called me mad. (0, Troll)

minusthink (218231) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104085)

i have had this idea for years

it's so obvious.

Lameness filter encountered. Post aborted!
Reason: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING.
OH I DIDN"T KNOW

Re:they called me mad. (1)

ryanjensen (741218) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104199)

Oh, well there goes their chance to patent this invention.

Can I have my legs back please? (0, Redundant)

Assaulted_Peanut (742517) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104089)

How are you meant to sow the plant without blowing your limbs off?

By Crop plane... (1)

AzrealAO (520019) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104131)

or by clearing a small strip of land through a suspected field. But then, that would require reading the frigging article.

Re:Can I have my legs back please? (1)

Grey_14 (570901) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104145)

RTFA: It suggests using planes like cropdusters to plant them.

In case aresa.dk goes down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8104092)

Landmines

Aresa has developed a unique method for the detection of landmines in small as well as large areas. Landmines represent a significant problem, especially in the third world, where 26,000 (source:Red Cross) people in average are killed or injured every year. Another significant problem is that large areas of land (in Cambodia estimated 40%, in Angola estimated 90%(source:UN) are unused with severe socio-economic consequences for the population/countries.

On a yearly basis between 200 and 300 m$(source:UN) are spent on demining funded by governments. Further significant amounts are spent as a part of military peacekeeping operations as well as private funds and funds from individual countries improving internal infrastructure. On top, the World Bank issues significant loans with the purpose of clearing land.

Regulations:
The quality guidelines for the clearing of landmines from the United Nations are 99,6% clearance. In practice, however, the clearance should be 100%, before the areas can be brought back to normal. According to UN an area must be checked twice before clearance can be established.

Demining is needed when:
- Refugees are moved back to their homeland like in the case of Afghanistan
- Related to programs regaining lost land
- Related to programs promoting international investments (e.g. South Africa).
- Key areas are developed for different purposes (airports, roads, railroads, in-dustry etc.)

Re:In case aresa.dk goes down - more pages (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8104135)

The Technology [Subpage]

The biodetection system of Aresa, which is in the process of being intellectually protected, may be introduced in different plant types. The biodetection system is currently being developed using the plant Thale Cress (Arabidopsis thaliana).

The underlying biochemical mechanism by which the colour change of the genetically plants occurs is based on altering the regulation of the natural pigment biosynthetic pathways in the plants.

Plants normally go red or redish in autumn where the red pigments dominate over the green ones, or as a result of stressed growth conditions. The genetically engineered plants are modified in a way that only allows these plants to go red if triggered by a specific stimulus present in the soil. The stimulus is unique to the plant dependent on the actual application that is pursued with the specific plant. Stimuli may be heavy metals, or NO2 that evaporates when explosives are reduced in the soil. Such stimuli trigger the production of a key-enzyme in the biochemical pathway responsible for production of the group of red pigments called anthocyanins. The resulting colour change is expected within 3-6 weeks dependent on the growth conditions.

The plant:
There are many reasons for choosing the plant Thale Cress (Arabidopsis thaliana) as a first choice for development of the biotetection system:

- The plant has a fast growth rate (growth cycle of 6-8 weeks).
- The plant is naturally growing all around the world (except from the poles)
- The plant is a well studied genetic model system, thus, data, knowledge are available.
- It is a true advantage that the plant is an obligate self-pollinating plant in order to avoid spreading of genetically engineered plants to the environment.
- Male-sterility can be introduced into the genetically engineered plants in order to eliminate the risk for spreading pollen. Thus, the plants developed by Aresa neither germinate nor set seeds unless a specific growth hormone is added to the plants, so plant growth can be strictly controlled.

Re:In case aresa.dk goes down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8104146)

The biodetection system of Aresa, which is in the process of being intellectually protected, may be introduced in different plant types. The biodetection system is currently being developed using the plant Thale Cress (Arabidopsis thaliana).

The underlying biochemical mechanism by which the colour change of the genetically plants occurs is based on altering the regulation of the natural pigment biosynthetic pathways in the plants.

Plants normally go red or redish in autumn where the red pigments dominate over the green ones, or as a result of stressed growth conditions. The genetically engineered plants are modified in a way that only allows these plants to go red if triggered by a specific stimulus present in the soil. The stimulus is unique to the plant dependent on the actual application that is pursued with the specific plant. Stimuli may be heavy metals, or NO2 that evaporates when explosives are reduced in the soil. Such stimuli trigger the production of a key-enzyme in the biochemical pathway responsible for production of the group of red pigments called anthocyanins. The resulting colour change is expected within 3-6 weeks dependent on the growth conditions.

The plant:
There are many reasons for choosing the plant Thale Cress (Arabidopsis thaliana) as a first choice for development of the biotetection system:

- The plant has a fast growth rate (growth cycle of 6-8 weeks).
- The plant is naturally growing all around the world (except from the poles)
- The plant is a well studied genetic model system, thus, data, knowledge are available.
- It is a true advantage that the plant is an obligate self-pollinating plant in order to avoid spreading of genetically engineered plants to the environment.
- Male-sterility can be introduced into the genetically engineered plants in order to eliminate the risk for spreading pollen. Thus, the plants developed by Aresa neither germinate nor set seeds unless a specific growth hormone is added to the plants, so plant growth can be strictly controlled.

Re:In case aresa.dk goes down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8104179)

BEAT YA TO IT ;-)

Good Idea (5, Insightful)

Grey_14 (570901) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104093)

This is the kinda thing Genetic Engineering and Modification should be going into, not for Cheaper prices in the supermarket, or Glowing fish,
Lets see more food in starving country's, Less Landmines, and other ways to improve life,

Of course, thats whats been said about just about any new or improved technology in the last what, 30 years?

Dupe! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8104095)

Breathe, breathe in the air.
Don't be afraid to care.
Leave but don't leave me.
Look around and choose your own ground.


Long you live and high you fly
And smiles you'll give and tears you'll cry
And all you touch and all you see
Is all your life will ever be.


Run, rabbit run.
Dig that hole, forget the sun,
And when at last the work is done
Don't sit down it's time to dig another one.


For long you live and high you fly
But only if you ride the tide
And balanced on the biggest wave
You race towards an early grave.


Anti-Slash [anti-slash.org]

And... (2, Insightful)

mewyn (663989) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104097)

Despite the fact that this flower may save hundreds of lives and thousands of injuries, anti-genetic research people are bound to delay this from being deploied.
I do think that it will need to be tested to make sure it causes no harm, but it is going to be a great help in some war-torn countries.

Mewyn Dy'ner

There's an example of unique thinking. (4, Interesting)

Sheetrock (152993) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104104)

Glowing fish are neat, but this is the type of breakthrough that should convince holdout countries that genetically modified plants are a good thing. Granted, whatever this plant is it isn't likely it'll grow everywhere, but this is so innovative that I wonder if it can be applied to the detection of other materials in the soil.

It's even self-limiting, so despite being a weed it won't choke out the local flora.

The hippies were right all along (2, Funny)

addie (470476) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104105)

Flower power!

In other News (0, Flamebait)

-Grover (105474) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104106)

California has put in a bid to not allow the flowers to ever be planted. They could cause worldwide destruction much like the Glofish [glofish.com]

Beware!

Flowers? (1)

dacarr (562277) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104111)

Wouldn't it be more efficient to just get a cache of mad cows and send them into the mine fields, like in this game [cheapass.com] ?

(Note, I don't work for Cheapass Games.)

Proliferation of the genetic material (1)

fejikso (567395) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104113)

Of course, the idea is that these plants should reproduce and grow everywhere...

However, that means we're also disseminating these artificial mutations to the wild.

Isn't it risky to release this beast and let it proliferate and perhaps cross-breed with other species? What are the long-term consequences of doing this?

Re:Proliferation of the genetic material (3, Informative)

thelexx (237096) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104217)

"Of course, the idea is that these plants should reproduce and grow everywhere..."

No, it isn't. The article specifically states that the plants are sterile and cannot seed.

RTFA (1)

nate1138 (325593) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104242)

If you had read the article, you would know that the plants have been engineered to be sterile. Much like the GM corn crops that Monsanto (evil bastards) sells.

Of course, that doesn't mean that something couldn't go wrong, and we end up with a breeding specimen.

Awesome (1)

Junado (707870) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104115)

I guess it might look funny: imagine walking through a wonderful, green, grass field where there are some red spots all around.

"Mom, we're going out to play soccer!"
"Ok boys, take care and watchout for the red grass!"


Still, if it grows quickly and is easily adaptable to all kind of grounds, it could be an excellent way to remove mines in large dangerous zones.

Phase 2 (4, Funny)

John Jorsett (171560) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104123)

Develop the next generation flower that detonates itself, taking out the mine, instead of just turning a different color. You'd probably risk being gunned down by airport security for carrying flowers, but progress comes at a price ...

Re:Phase 2 (1)

psychogentoo (582658) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104200)

Of course, Phase 3 will be 'profit'.

Good Idea (1, Interesting)

Ozone Depletion (738650) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104124)

This seems like a great idea to me. The main problem I see though is getting the flowers to grow in the soil where landmines have been planted. I mean, minefeilds don't seem like fertile places to me.

Re:Good Idea (3, Interesting)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104198)

If the ground's been fought over, it's probably very fertile now. Not only because of the blood spilled, but because the nitrates from the munitions get into the soil.

conflict! (1)

Ba3r (720309) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104132)

Oh the conflict.. those who are so passionately against landmines and genetic engineering will have to choose!

Me? I choose landmines that explode into flowers, which we can all dance around, happy with joined hands singing Peace on Earth

The hard part... (1)

jvl001 (229079) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104140)

The hard part is tilling and planting the mine field first!

Cost? (1)

Lurker McLurker (730170) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104151)

Don't GM crops cost a lot to develop? I can imagine a third world country struggling to pay for enough of these plants to cover all potentially dangerous areas. Still, it is basically a brilliant idea, though it is still important to make sure anti-personnel mines are not used in the first place, and this organism is only necessary in the battlefields where wars were fought in the past.

What about fertilisers? (4, Interesting)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104153)

Many fertilisers are made from various nitrogen compounds that are similar to explosives. That is why you can make a pretty nice bang with fertiliser + diesel fuel, and why there is a nice little relationship between fertiliser and explosives factories.

Sure, out in the African bush you would not expect to find fertilisers but I extect some of the mine hot zones in Asia are fertilised quite heavily.

Congratulations! (3, Interesting)

Erick the Red (684990) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104155)

Landmines are a HUGE problem in so many countries. Engineers Without Borders has a yearly competition for de-mining technology. These plants could make the new devices obsolete.

One quick question: what about minefields in the desert? Plenty of places have mines where plants don't usually grow (or at least not densely enough for the plants to detect them all).

Larry Niven completes it. (2, Funny)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104156)

Now, crossbreed them with those heatbeam-shooting Ringworld sunflowers, and you've got something that detects mines, and then blows them up.

Now, how do you get rid of the fields of killer sunflowers covering the landscape? Errmm. sorry, didn't hear that. Gotta go...

minesweeper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8104162)

so is there a hack for microsoft minesweeper?

WhatMeWorry

unintended consequences (2, Interesting)

KingJoshi (615691) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104170)

This is ground-breaking technology and it's really cool to see it work to say lives. But I wonder what unintended consequences may occur from planting weeds around. This is very ignorant of me, but what effects could they have if they spread too fast or whatever since some areas where there are landmines are actually agricultural. I guess this technology could be used on other types of plants too, right?

Aroma (1)

Popageorgio (723756) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104171)

Flowers will smell a lot better than the smell added to natural gas.

FUNNY (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8104176)

Maybe they could grow a flower that turns colors in th presence of methane... all that geek ass-gass could be useful!

What do you need flowers for! (5, Funny)

Mieckowski (741243) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104178)

All you have to do is look at the numbers in the adjacent boxes.

People are so lazy!

Princess Diana (2, Interesting)

savagedome (742194) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104182)

Princess Diana, for one, would have been very happy to see this development. Although her calling a ban on international landmines sparked a row [bbc.co.uk] as it was out of sync with the government policy.

Definitely one of the better use of genetics.

Interesting but likely ineffective (1)

jsav40 (614902) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104186)

Since (IMHO) nitrogen-dioxide is likely to be present in areas where munitions/explosives have been used. That would result in false positives since minefields by definition are likely to be in areas where explosives etc. have been expended.

If they really want to make money..... (2, Interesting)

Pure Diluted Reality (745905) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104189)

They should make a condom that contains plant material that can detect STD's and change colors accourdingly.

this is such a good idea (1)

simonharvey (605068) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104193)

many people have demonised GE as screwing with the enviroment and 'playing god', however the good that will come out of this may offset the actions of thoes who lacked the forsight to realise that mines kill people long after the war has finished.

It won't work (2, Insightful)

psb777 (224219) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104194)

Landmines are fairly small devices so a high plant density would be required. Much land is not easily planted - esp by airplane. It will have to be a remarkable plant to grow in all the conditions it will be needed. They would need one variety for paddy fields, another for savanna, etc etc. To have a chance of getting growing plants in sufficient density you would have to plough the land first.

Re:It won't work (1)

psb777 (224219) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104255)

And you would have to wait for the growing season.
And be prepared to go without the food crop in the interim. The investor list for this project is the most valuable thing about it: A list of wealthy suckers.

Thought it was mimes (5, Funny)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104203)

Sorry, I thought this was about flowers detecting mimes. I was so looking forward to using this during my next trip to New York City. My mistake.

poetic (4, Interesting)

theCat (36907) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104212)

There is something marvelously just and poetic about using flowers to detect land mines. Thousands of children and innocents a year are blown to giblets, or horribly hutilated, by land mines. May a thousand flowers bloom.

Don't see how this is progress... (1)

SilentT (742071) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104216)

Within three to six weeks from being sowed over land mine infested areas the small plant, a Thale Cress, will turn a warning red whenever close to a land mine. later... Dogs and metal detectors are also often used. Why don't they just stick to dogs and metal detectors? Seems that would be a lot faster and more efficient.

Dog carcasses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8104231)

Why don't they just stick to dogs and metal detectors?

Yeah, having dead dog parts all blasted all over the countryside is one reason I really love doing this the old fashioned way.

To think, all this time... (3, Funny)

foxtrot (14140) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104226)

...I've just been using my binoculars.

"Landmine spotted, check your command map."

I didn't even notice a "gardner" class in the limbo screen...

-JDF

As long as nobody patents them... (1)

holizz (737615) | more than 10 years ago | (#8104228)

These plants could be a really inexpensive way of exposing landmines. I really hope this project works out.

Another one, In bad taste (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8104253)

Don't plants already turn red around landmines? When somebody finds one, anyway.

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