Imagine walking through your neighborhood and suddenly noticing that all the plants have turned brown. A sudden drought? No?a terrorist warning. Lakshmi Sandhana writes in the Christian Science Monitor that plants are being genetically engineered to turn fluorescent green or sickly brown within minutes or hours of exposure to chemical weapons. They would be mainly planted along airport runways or around military or industrial sites.

Some of the plants will be able to signal the presence of chemical agents and weapons such as anthrax. Others are being designed to fluoresce when they detect TNT residues in the soil. These will be used mostly in other countries, for land mine detection. If their glow is bright enough, satellites may be able to detect minefields from space. Genes could be introduced into algae, so satellites could spot color changes if water was poisoned.

“The plants would provide warnings so people could immediately vacate an affected area, and then experts could verify exactly what the agent is,” says biologist A.S.N. Reddy. “Unlike the Bio-Watch plan, which would take 12 to 24 hours to detect and report pathogens, the plants would give nearly immediate warnings.”

Biologist June Medford says, “Plants are sensitive enough to detect a difference in even one gene in a fungal spore.”

We have one proven warning system already in place?are we using it against terrorism?

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