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12 bizarre examples of genetic engineering

By: Laura Moss on Oct. 27, 2010, 12:30 p.m.
genetically engineered poplar plants

Photo: University of Washington

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Pollution-fighting plants

Scientists at the University of Washington are engineering poplar trees that can clean up contamination sites by absorbing groundwater pollutants through their roots. The plants then break the pollutants down into harmless byproducts that are incorporated into their roots, stems and leaves or released into the air.

In laboratory tests, the transgenic plants are able to remove as much as 91 percent of trichloroethylene — the most common groundwater contaminant at U.S. Superfund sites — out of a liquid solution. Regular poplar plants removed just 3 percent of the contaminant.