i-Phones as Sniffer Dogs

iPhone as sniffer dogs

There is a new technology being developed that will allow you to use your iPhone or smartphone to detect GMO’s and other toxins in foods, much like a sniffer dog detects drugs.  The University of Illinois and  Urbana-Champaign researchers have developed a phone application and cradle which will allow your phone to act as a powerful sensor device.  Using the phone’s camera and ‘processing power as a biosensor’, they say phones will be able to detect GMO’s, toxins, bacteria, protein, viruses and other elements that may be harmful to health.

We are being absolutely over-run with toxins produced by biotechnology and other supposedly supporting the food industry in this country.  Genetically Modified foods have become greater than the norm, taking over more than 70% of the nation’s food supply.  Many consumers are unaware of the potential hazards of consuming genetically modified foods and are ingesting them in ignorance. Genetically modified corn, for example, contains pesticides that cannot be washed off, they are actually grown into the DNA of the corn.

Technology comes to the rescue once again!

In an age where nearly every person carries some sort of hand-held device, it is by no far stretch of the imagination to see consumers desiring to confidently arm themselves with a way to see what it is they are really getting in their foods today.  Imagine being able to use your iPhone like a modern day sniffer dog to find out whether you are buying genetically engineered corn, apples or rice.  Think how empowering you will feel to detect pesticide residues in dairy and meat products before you purchase them.

Brian Cunningham,  a professor the University of Illinois and team leader in electrical and computer engineering and bioengineering says “Smartphones are making a big impact on our society — the way we get our information, the way we communicate. And they have really powerful computing capability and imaging. A lot of medical conditions might be monitored very inexpensively and non-invasively using mobile platforms like phones. They can detect molecular things, like pathogens, disease biomarkers or DNA, things that are currently only done in big diagnostic labs with lots of expense and large volumes of blood.”  Our phones will be able to – through the information stored on tiny computer chips – detect DNA sequencing and biological information.

In the cradle  created by Cunningham and his team for smartphones, there is a procession of several optical elements – filters and lenses – normally found in much larger and more sophisticated units.  How the sensor works is through a mirror-like photonic crystal at the center, which only reflects one wavelength, allowing the rest to pass through.  If anything biological in nature attaches to the photonic crystal, the wavelength changes to a color longer, rather than shorter, on the spectrum.  This same device in the laboratory can cost around $50,000, but is being created for only $200 for small hand-held devices, making it largely affordable to those in the western world.  The test itself will only take the consumer several minutes.

The non-radioactive DNA detection chemistry will be able to readily identify single-copy genes in transgenic plants making them suitable for GMO detection. ” reports Marco Torres of Realfarmacy.com.

This technology will not only change the way we shop, it is sure to change the entire food industry, as consumers become personally empowered in their food choices, farmers and companies that do not honor a healthy code of production will pay with lost customers.  iPhones and smartphones are about to become smarter as they step into the shoes of ‘personal sniffer dogs’ in the field of food toxicology.  I am happy to see computer engineers as concerned with our nation’s eating habits as they are with the advancement of communication.

Written by Stasia Bliss

Sources: RealFarmacy.com; Undergroundhealth.com; Huffington Post; Open Knowledge

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