Could GM plants replace airport security scanners?

| | October 20, 2014
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This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

Imagine if passing through airport security could be as pleasant as a stroll through a park. Scientist June Medford is working to harness the innate sensing abilities of plants, genetically engineering them into lean, green bomb-and-drug detecting machines. Medford is a “synthetic biologist” (not to imply she’s artificial, but to clarify that she dabbles in the re-design of existing, natural biological systems in attempt to find new useful purposes).

“The way we screen [at] airports…is, everyone goes through detector systems and it’s slow. What would make much more sense…is that you would walk through a garden-like setting, with a webcam looking down on plants, seeing if they detected anything,” Medford told Motherboard in a phone interview, “You wouldn’t be able to identify an individual, but if you go through 10 people at a time, well, if it detects something you can look through those people in detail.”  Engineered plants could be internet-connected to electronic webcams, detecting color changes before they’re perceptible to the human eye, and signaling an alarm.

Sound far-fetched? Consider that the natural sensors in plants can be over 100 times more receptive than a dog’s.

Read full, original article: Genetically engineered plants to replace airport security checkpoints?

 

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