Researchers in Amsterdam are hoping that the Honeysuckle plant can be a weapon in the war against air pollution.
Amsterdam, Holland has some of the most progressive environmental protection initiatives in the world, especially when it comes to greenhouse gases. In 2026, all cars that run on gas will be banned from the city. Their fleet of public buses is already transitioning from diesel fuel to electricity, but by 2025, they will be powered by the sun and the wind. Changes in infrastructure and implementing new technologies takes time, though, and the city is anxious to move forward with something more immediate. This is where the Honeysuckle plant comes into play.
Researchers at the AMS Institute have genetically modified the Honeysuckle to produce a plant called the “Green Junkie”. This new species of Honeysuckle has very large leaves that are covered with more hair than the typical Honeysuckle. The Green Junkie is also a fast grower. A special organic fertilizer made from plant waste collected from the city serves as special food for the plant. The hairs on a plant absorb carbon monoxide. Because this new species has so much more hair, it will be able to absorb greater amounts of carbon monoxide. It will literally eat smog, or so researchers hope.
This will be great news for cities around the world dealing with the impact of air pollution from fossil fuels. According to the World Health Organization, more than 3 million people die every year from the effects of air pollution. Countless others suffer from chronic respiratory illnesses such as emphysema and asthma.
Testing continues until the fall and then we will know if indeed the Green Junkie will be the answer to smog. The potential is entirely plausible. Plants have long been known for their ability to clean indoor air and certain ivy and grasses planted along roadways have been known to reduce particulates by 60% and nitrogen dioxide by as much as 40%.