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Chemical sensors could detect plants' cries for help, reduce need for pesticides

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It's a terrifying thought, but science suggests that when under attack, plants cry for help. Invisible and, often odorless, green leaf volatiles emitted from vegetation act as a defense mechanism, communicating to other foliage that danger is near. One researcher at the University of Georgia, however, is developing a chemical sensor to use these distraught emissions for good. Working in a similar fashion detecting glucose in the blood, the sensor would be able to alert farmers to when crops are under attack from pests, allowing them to trigger defenses reactively, and in a localized area. The net result being less chemicals on our food, and potentially lower costs for producers. Other suggested uses include helping us keep our produce at home fresher for longer by -- literally -- weeding out bad apples in a bag, before they affect the others. The technology is still being optimized for field use, but a testing device should follow once complete. In the meantime, we'll never feel the same about mowing the lawn again.

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