A research agency for the federal government is launching a program to turn plants into spies, reports Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
The Advanced Plant Technologies program aims to modify vegetation to detect electromagnetic signals, pathogens, radiation and chemicals in the environment and report the data to military intelligence.
The federal Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is holding an information event Dec. 12 for groups or companies interested in participating in the project.
The federal government said it will introduce the science and technology community to the APT program’s objective and provide information about logistics and contract options.
The federal government contract website explains how APT hopes to use plant physiology for the nation’s defense.
“Plant sensors developed under the program will sense specific stimuli and report these signals with a remotely recognized phenotype (e.g., modified reflectance, morphology, phenology, etc.). Modern plant biotechnology holds significant promise for addressing a range of Department of Defense (DoD) needs; plants are easily deployed, self-powering, and ubiquitous in the environment, and the combination of these native abilities with specifically engineered sense-and-report traits will produce sensors occupying new and unique operational spaces.”
The proposal says the “long-term success of engineered plant sensors requires the ability to ensure plant survivability for months or years in a natural environment subject to stresses not present in a laboratory environment.’
“Meeting both the sensor and survivability technical goals of the APT program will require a combination of plant genomics emerging technologies, precision gene editing tools, and novel methods for engineering new sensing capabilities and physiological responses. Proposing teams should include experts in diverse fields including plant physiology, gene editing, biochemistry, modelling, phenotyping, remote sensing, and plant ecology.”
The federal agency explains it aims to modify the genomes of plants to program them for their military duties.
DARPA officials noted “few military requirements are as enduring as the need for timely, accurate information.”