Scientists Worried: Pentagon Wants To Make Virus-Spreading Insects

by | Oct 8, 2018 | Headline News | 9 comments

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    Scientists are voicing their concerns over the Pentagon’s idea of making virus-spreading insects. Funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the project involves using gene-editing techniques like CRISPR to infect insects with modified viruses that could supposedly help make America’s crops more resilient.

    For example, if a cornfield were to be hit by an unexpected drought or suddenly exposed to a pathogen, Insect Allies might be able to deploy an army of aphids carrying a genetically modified virus to slow the corn plant’s growth rate, wrote Live Science. According to the DARPA website, these “targeted therapies” could take effect in a single growing season, potentially protecting the American crop system from “food security threats” such as diseases, flooding, frost, and even “threats introduced by state or non-state actors.”  However, scientists are rightfully concerned.

    In a letter published on October 5 of this year in the journal Science, a team of five scientists wrote about their concerns. They worry that the project could be easily be exploited and used as a biological weapon, or at the bare minimum, could be perceived as a biological weapon by the international community. “In our opinion, the justifications are not clear enough. For example, why do they use insects? They could use spraying systems,” Silja Voeneky, a co-author of the letter and professor of international law at the University of Freiburg in Germany, told The Washington Post“To use insects as a vector to spread diseases is a classical bioweapon.”

    Blake Bextine, the program manager for Insect Allies, is somewhat less concerned. “Anytime you’re developing a new and revolutionary technology, there is that potential for [both offensive and defensive] capability,” Bextine told The Washington Post. “But that [making a biological weapon] is not what we are doing. We are delivering positive traits to plants… We want to make sure we ensure food security because food security is national security in our eyes.”

    Although Insect Allies is still in the rather early stages of development, and at least four Unites States colleges (Boyce Thompson Institute, Penn State University, The Ohio State University, and the University of Texas at Austin) have received funding to carry out research. Bextine told The Washington Post that the project recently achieved its first milestone. The project was testing whether an aphid could infect a stalk of corn with a designer virus that caused fluorescence. Horrifyingly, according to the Washington Post, “the corn glowed.”

    DARPA has been the source of some of the eeriest projects in humanity’s short history.  The future truly looks dystopian.


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      1. Remember the margarine commercials where Mother Nature thinks the margarine is butter? “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature!” should be “It’s really stupid to fool with Mother Nature!”. As a whole, we’re not as smart as we think we are and we don’t really understand what we mess with.

      2. Alfred E. Neuman

        “Me Worry”

        • Hope they’re tweaked to like dark meat and Soros fare.

      3. I’m already working on a better fly-swatter—-laser-guided

      4. Firstly, what happens if drying or diseased plants are affected with any ordinary aphids. Now, secondly, imagine that you are scientifically stunting their growth, under adverse conditions.

        Aphids, fungus gnats, etc, do not like bright, direct sunlight, and crisp, fresh, moving air, in my experience.

        In danker moisture, shikakai (or, I am sure, other plant-based gardener’s soaps) send them flying. (Several useful species are native to the local desert.) It’s possible to get many uses from the solids, and you can probably grow more. Tested successfully, not just book knowledge.

        Anecdotally, scent seems to distract them. This leaves a light, herbal odor, all by itself, or is combined with essential oils, sometimes. Neem (which many of you can grow) and many others are not approved for use on the formal food supply, although (according to traditional stories) you could apply some of these to minor wounds and use them brush your teeth.

        Test cautiously, as oily stuff can photosensitize the leaves — like tanning oil.

        (Indian farmers have killed themselves over GMO failures, and also repurposed Coca Cola as a foliar spray.)

      5. These doomsday biological manipulators are subhuman freaks and are sure to cause more damage preventing liveable futures. You cannot improve on mother nature, proof enough look at Monsanto/Bayer, Dow Chemical among others, big oil and nuclear power, military poisons spread far and wide, all threats to human life ignoring common sense which money trumps every time.

      6. Two things:
        1. Affirmative Action Professors
        2. Very young genius scientists

        The human brain is not fully matured until 25 to 30 years of age. A scientist does most of his college and work before he’s old enough to shave.


        • A fatalist, I think that people are born with a moral compass (regardless of where that is pointed.)

          I’ve had adults try to keep me in the children’s part of the library, when I was little.

          I have seen an obvious disregard for natural law or God given rights, and, so far as I can tell, this gets worse with age.

          Should you infect someone’s private, agricultural property, against their will — particularly, assuming that it may possibly cause illness, for the people who eat it.

          A good kid knows the answer, already.

      7. Why is it the Pentagon is promoting this and so concerned about food supplies? I would think this would come under the Agriculture Department. Sounds more like a biological weapon to me.

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