Red Detect is a landmine-detecting flower.
This genetically modified plant has been engineered to change colour when its roots comes into close contact with landmines.
At Firsthand, we say all good things are ‘people-shaped’™, and this is one of the most inspiring examples of technology applied to solely bettering people’s lives that we’ve ever read about. It may be genetically modified, but that’s just the kind of twist we like – good people in white coats rather than vivisectionists.
The project is the brainchild of a Danish company called Aresa, and we became aware of it when it was posted on Worldchanging.com. The flowers react when their roots spread into soil containing nitrogen dioxide, the explosive substance which starts to leak from landmines once they have been knocking around for a bit.
Aresa recently transferred the technology into tobacco plants, which are hardier, but then put the project on hold. According to a press release, this is because of problems with the business models behind its commercial development.
Whether the last chapter in this flower’s story is a happy one or not, we’d like to see a world full of this type of thinking.