Genetically Modified Ordnance
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Speaking of genetically modified organisms, we only just now learned that research on the land mine-detecting plant, which we briefly noted here, was discontinued last year.
Aresa, a Denmark-based biotech company, had genetically modified thale-cresses and later tobacco to change color when their roots come in contact with a chemical released into the soil by decaying explosives. This new technology promised to become a cheap and safe method to detect landmines, which still injure and kill thousands of civilians each year.
But the company felt the market potential of its land mine plants was declining. It would take a few more years to develop the technology, and mine-clearance machines, according to them, has already gained “official status as the preferred mine-clearance method. Mine-clearance machines are able to clear larger areas more efficiently, which has led to falling prices in mine clearance.” Consequently, they decided to focus on “investment in mine contaminated land in Croatia” — real estate, in other words.
Aresa will still work towards de-mining its properties, no doubt using those mine-clearance machines. So probably unrealizable now are some of the more beguiling methods they would have used (or not) to broadcast their botanical sensors, such as misting mine fields with a GMO gas cloud. And using cargo airplanes: instead of carpet bombing them with high explosive TNTs, they'll drop cluster seed bombs, which disintegrate a few feet above the ground before showering these killing zones with transgenic seeds. Re-bombing landscapes to save thousands of lives.