October 5, 2018
In an opinion paper published Thursday in the journal Science, researchers say the U.S. needs to provide greater justification for the peace-time purpose of its Insect Allies project to avoid being perceived as hostile to other countries.
Other experts expressed ethical and security concerns with the research, which seeks to transmit protective traits to crops already growing in the field.
That would mark a departure from the current widely used procedure of genetically modifying seeds for crops such as corn and soy, before they grow into plants.
The military research agency says its goal is to protect the nation’s food supply from threats like drought, crop disease and bioterrorism by using insects to infect plants with viruses that protect against such dangers.
‘Food security is national security,’ said Blake Bextine, who heads the 2-year-old project at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, an arm of the U.S. Department of Defense.
The State Department said the project is for peaceful purposes and does not violate the Biological Weapons Convention.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said its scientists are part of the research, which is being conducted in contained labs.
This article was posted: Friday, October 5, 2018 at 7:43 am