Deliberate Release of Genetically Engineered Insects

STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • Insect Allies is a $45 million, four-year program that was launched in 2016
  • Insects such as leafhoppers, whiteflies and aphids are being used to carry GE viruses intended to quickly act on plants that are already growing in fields
  • The purpose is publically stated as being intended for routine agricultural use, with corn and tomato plants reportedly among the first crops being used in experiments
  • Public debate and research about the consequences of using GE viruses to modify plants, not to mention releasing insects to freely carry them, are conspicuously lacking
  • Five European scientists sounded an alarm that the “agricultural research” could easily be perceived as an effort to “develop biological agents for hostile purposes and their means of delivery”
  • This would be a breach of the Biological Weapons Convention, which prohibits parties from developing or producing agents that have no peaceful purposes

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