US Military Wants to Use Genetically Modified Plants as Spy Tech


Many crazy hidden gadgets are shown in James Bond and Kingsman. Everyone is excited about spy tech. But have you ever imagined a plant as a spy gadget? Obviously not, right. However, the US military wants to use plants as the next generation information-gatherers…

The Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the organisation that is responsible for the developing breakthrough technologies for the US military, has asked researchers to propose means to genetically modify plants to purvey certain characteristics.

DARPA has developed many information gathering technologies in the past such as satellites and seismographs to ensure the Soviet compliance with the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

DARPA has labelled the program as the Advanced Plant Technologies (APT) that reviews the simple plants as next generation of intelligence gatherers.


DARPA’s conception in the APT is to modify the plants’ natural system for sensing and its response to the environment and extend them to detect the presence of certain chemicals, pathogens, radiation and even electromagnetic signals.

“Plants are highly attuned to their environments and naturally manifest physiological responses to basic stimuli such as light and temperature, but also in some cases to touch, chemicals, pests, and pathogens” said Blake Bextine, the DARPA Program Manager for APT.

This program work depends on the existing technologies available so the APT will not fund for any new hardware development. If this program is successful then it leads to a new sensing platform that is energy independent and robust.

 “Emerging molecular and modeling techniques may make it possible to reprogram these detection and reporting capabilities for a wide range of stimuli, which would not only open up new intelligence streams, but also reduce the personnel risks and costs associated with traditional sensors.” said Blake Bextine.

DARPA will be holding a Proposers Day for APT on December 12, 2017 in Virginia.


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