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The Death of the Land Mine-Detecting Flower
Julia Levitt, 11 Nov 08
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Research on the land mine detecting flower, which we posted about back in 2005 here and here, has come to an end.

The company behind the concept, Denmark-based Aresa, has discontinued work on the project, and has subsequently changed the company focus from biotechnology to investment. According to this press release issued in September,

The business model behind the landmine plant has become outdated and consequently aresa is changing its strategy to investment in mine contaminated land in Croatia. aresa intends to maintain its humanitarian focus, but now with a far less risky investment case for the stock.

The genetically modified flower, called RedDetect, was engineered to change color when its roots came in contact with nitrogen dioxide, a compound released by decaying chemicals used in explosives. The award-winning innovation had potential to become an important tool it detecting the presence of land mines, which kill thousands of civilians each year.

A previous release from Aresa states that the company transferred the RedDetect technology into a hardier host plant – tobacco – in March 2008. But the RedDetect concept was not progressing toward commercial development as quickly as the company had hoped, and (as this release from Aresa states), the growing use of mine-clearance machines has driven down the cost and increased the machines' status as the preferred method for mine clearance.

Thanks to Worldchanging reader Anthony Leiserowitz from Yale University for alerting us to this news.

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in other words this company was driven out so the defense industry could make money on getting rid of landminds.


but it's a sad state of affairs when a simple flower is replaced by technology.

Posted by: Thomas Jefferson on 12 Nov 08



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