Pentagon’s “Insect Allies” or agricultural bioweapon?

Oct 05, 2018, 7:31 AM EDT
(Source: Isaac Wedin/flickr)
(Source: Isaac Wedin/flickr)

“Insect Allies,” a program under which the research wing of the U.S. military seeks to deploy insects to genetically modify crops for better resiliency, has all the earmarks of a potential bioweapon, warns a new report by Science Policy Forum.

Critics call the program a dangerous example of “dual-use research,” adding that the delivery of lab-developed genetic modifications to crops by releasing fleets of vectors into open fields would amount to a breach of the Biological Weapons Convention, notes Earther.

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) rebuffs all the apprehensions and allegations, arguing that the technology, called Horizontal Environmental Genetic Alteration Agents, or HEGAAs, could shield plants against viruses and bioterrorism threats, notes The Herald Dispatch. Science Policy Forum warns that insects as vehicles of delivery are uncontrollable, proposing the use of overhead sprays to deliver the HEGAAs instead.