When I told the story to my friend, who is a respected scientist, his reaction was “Yeh! Right!’, so I decided that it fits the category of the true amazing stories and facts.
The landmine is one of the most insidious devices ever created by human hands. There are more than 100 million landmines buried and active in the world today. Another 100 million are stockpiled and ten million are produced annually. More than a million people have been killed or maimed by landmines since 1975. Half of all adults who stand on a mine die before they reach hospital. Children, being smaller, are more likely to die from their injuries, though there are still more than 300,000 children alive who have been severely disabled by landmines.
Clearing mines is a dangerous and very costly job. Mines can cost as little as $3 to produce yet the necessary care involved in clearing a landmine costs more than US$2000 a mine. Even then, one accident occurs for every 1800-2000 mines cleared. For every one hour spent in laying mines, over 100 hours are spent de-mining to remove the same number of mines. If we stopped laying mines NOW and continued clearing at current rates, the world would be free of mines in the year 3100. One estimate of the cost of clearing the world’ landmines is US$33 Billion. Unfortunately, mines are being laid 25 times faster than they are being cleared.
A Danish biotech company has developed a genetically modified flower that could help detect land mines and it hopes to have a prototype ready for use within a few years.
"We are really excited about this, even though it’s early days. It has considerable potential," Simon Oestergaard, chief executive of developing company Aresa Biodetection, told Reuters.
The genetically modified weed has been coded to change color when its roots come in contact with nitrogen-dioxide (NO2) evaporating from explosives buried in soil.
Within three to six weeks from being sowed over land mine infested areas the small plant, a Thale Cress, will turn a warning red whenever close to a land mine.
Images below show how the underground mine is clearly marked with the surface plants.
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