While his classmates were playing video games or scrolling through Facebook, as many teenagers tend to do, Gaurav Mittal was creating a homemade polymerase chain reaction thermal cycler.
That is, a device used to detect whether a food is genetically modified.
The 14-year-old’s invention earned him the honor of grand champion at the annual North Museum Science & Engineering Fair….[T]he device, which uses varying temperatures to replicate and amplify a plant’s DNA in order to tell whether it is genetically modified, didn’t work as well as Gaurav hoped.
While comparing his results with a commercial thermal cycler at Elizabethtown College, he realized his device, made from parts ordered from sites like Amazon and Radioshack for $110, did not amplify the DNA correctly.
Through his testing, however, he discovered that the corn meal, chips and soy burger he tested were genetically modified, while the fresh papaya he tested was not.
Commercial thermal cyclers, Gaurav said, could cost $2,000 and come in an inconvenient, clunky size. He hopes, as he continues his work, that his finished product will be a sleek, 4-inch-by-4-inch cube.
The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: The science behind science fair grand champion Gaurav Mittal’s GMO detection device
For more background on the Genetic Literacy Project, read GLP on Wikipedia