A dilemma for the Greens

The Greens attacked the government last year for reducing the defence force contribution to a UN landmine clearance program and their defence policy states:

Prohibit the development or use of nuclear, cluster bombs, depleted uranium weapons, landmines and biological weapons

A new development in the US though is going to cause them a wee bit of a dilemma for them:

Scientists have genetically modified mice to enable them to sniff out landmines. They hope the GM mouse, known as MouSensor, could one day become a useful tool to help deal with the dangerous legacies of past wars.

More than 70 countries are contaminated by landmines, a constant reminder of previous conflicts. “Long after wars have ended, communities are still impeded from going back to their normal, daily activities because of all these mines still affecting their land,” said Charlotte D’Hulst of Hunter College, New York, who led the team that developed the MouSensor.

One approach to clearing landmines is to use HeroRats, giant pouched rats that are trained to sniff out landmines by the Belgian NGO, Apopo.

Two of these, with a human handler, can clear an area of 300 sq metres in less than two hours. It would take two people about two days to do the same. One disadvantage of the HeroRats system, however, is that the rats need nine months’ training before they are ready for landmine detection.

D’Hulst wanted to improve on the HeroRats concept by creating a genetically modified “supersniffer” mouse, sensitive to the specific odour of the explosives in landmines, TNT.

What to do?

The Greens also oppose all genetic modification, totally, in many policy areas.

So what will they do regarding this dilemma…ban the use of the GM mice and rats on purist grounds allowing landmines to remain undetected?

Or will they just treat this as an inconvenient proof that GM has benefits and just stay silent?



THANK YOU for being a subscriber. Because of you Whaleoil is going from strength to strength. It is a little known fact that Whaleoil subscribers are better in bed, good looking and highly intelligent. Sometimes all at once! Please Click Here Now to subscribe to an ad-free Whaleoil.

  • Mediaan

    They wont have a problem with the Apopo HeroRats. You say they are trained that way, over a longish and no doubt costly behavioural training. Not bred that way.

    New industry for NZ, I reckon.

    Lots of jobs to be had. Nine months full-time work to produce one sniffer rat. Must be worth $100,000 each, given their saving in time and lives.

    The method used is behavioural psychology. Same as for training bad behaviour out of kids, or for that matter training performing sheep for a movie.

    And. The bonus aspect!!

    We put – how to say this in this (still) Helenized over-regulated country? – sixteen year old brown-complexioned aggressive-behavioured males on to it. A category very over-represented on St Paula’s books of benefit boys.

    Which gives them training in how to raise children WITHOUT swinging them against a wall and then standing on them.

    • Mediaan

      By The Way, dogs can smell cancers.

  • blazer

    dogs do not need to be genetically modified to sniff out drugs,money,food etc…sounds like a real b/s story.

    • steve

      Rats are not dogs you dumb fuck

      • blazer

        no they’re not…but if you were so smart you would read the story and realise that they can train rats the same as dogs…einstein.

  • overthehill

    Or maybe option 4: Rather than manufacturing animals and ‘playing god’ the USA could join the civilised world and sign the treaty to ban landmines. Y’know, given that they laid most of the ones that are killing people and all. But then again, remaining in the rogue/failed state club along with Somalia, Syria, Israel, Cuba, Iraq and Myanmar probably explains a lot.