Saturday, March 27, 2004

Landmines remain a scourge

In an earlier post I wrote about a genetically-engineered plant that has been developed to help detect landmines. The Guardian has a follow-up article that points out some of the limitations of the plant.

Selected quote:

[O]ther groups criticised the project because it would make arid areas attractive to local livestock which, along with their human minders, might wander over mined land they would otherwise have avoided.

And there are other criticisms. 'These crops will not take root on land already covered with vegetation, as is the case with much land-mined ground,' said Sean Sutton, of the charity, the Mines Advisory Group. 'That will limit their use. Also many mines are sealed in plastic cases that will not let nitrogen dioxide seep out [which is what turns the plant's leaves red]. The [land-mine sensitive plant] would remain green, but there would still be mines underneath.'

Still, I think this mine-detecting plant is an amazing example of genetic engineering. I think genetic engineering will be really valuable in allowing humanity to shape a better future.

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