A Danish company, Aresa Biodetection, has developed genetically-modified flowers that change colour when their roots come in contact with nitrogen dioxide in the soil. Explosives used in mines produce NO² as the chemicals gradually decay. The company plans to sow fields of NO²-sniffing Arabidopsis thaliana (Thale or mouse cress) in areas riddled with long-forgotten ordinance from Angola to Cambodia.
The effort’s life- and limb-saving potential is staggering: More than 100 million land mines kill or injure 26,000 people in 45 countries each year. Today’s most popular detection method is poking around with a stick — via Core77