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02 Apr

Happy April!


Geemo can't detect other GMOs - just itself

Geemo can’t detect other GMOs – just itself

Hope you had a great April 1!  It seems like the world is back to normal now, but if you’re like me you probably spend a little too much time playing Google maps Pacman and wishing that Tesla’s parking ticket avoiding cars were available for sale.

Our April Fools joke, Geemo the GMO detector, got some interesting attention too. To come up with Geemo, we just looked at our color-changing flower in a new way: it’s engineered to turn purple. Therefore, when it turns purple, you know there’s a GMO around… Geemo!

We got the idea when a woman at SxSW suggested that we bioengineer a GMO detector.  The conversation started out pleasant, but once she learned that we were doing GMO work, her whole mood changed, she became visibly uncomfortable, and she made a comment as she walked away along the lines that “we need to create a plant that can detect GMOs and will turn a putrid brown when it encounters one.” That gave us a chuckle– A GMO plant that can detect GMOs.  Delightfully absurd for an April fools prank.

It turns out that a lot of people are interested in a GMO detector. People want information, and they want to understand how technology impacts them. We hope we’ve been able to do this at RevBio by communicating clearly and starting conversations – Geemo or not, our color changing flower is a pretty cool innovation.


01 Apr

Meet Geemo, the GMO Detector!

This little flower turns red in the presence of GMOs

This little flower turns red in the presence of GMOs

Find out if there are GMOs in your home with Geemo!

There is increasing concern about GMO safety in our post-agrobacterium world. Recognizing the need for increased consumer empowerment on this issue as well as an unmet need for more GMO transparency, researchers at Revolution Bioengineering are developing ‘Geemo’, a simple, easy to use, plant-based GMO detector that can detect the GMOs in your house.

Geemo is a white petunia that looks just like the petunias your grandma grows, but it contains a secret GMO detection system. Dr. Nikolai Braun, Revolution’s lead scientist described the way the system works to us: “All you need to do is pour a little beer into the petunia to activate the system. If there is a GMO nearby, the flowers will turn red.”

The petunia remains purple for five days allowing the user ample time to identify the source of the GMO. The simple yet effective detection system relies on anthocyanin production of the petunia—the same naturally occurring pigment molecules that color all petunias.

There already are some PCR-based detection kits available for GMOs, however these require specialized laboratory equipment that the average household doesn’t have. CEO Keira Havens shared that “Right now, there is a lot of fear and confusion about what GMOs are and where they can be found, and people want to know how they can distinguish between GMO and non-GMO products. Home detection kits are the way to inform and educate people.”

Learn more here.