Researchers embarrassing omissions of fact one of the programs of the Agency.
The program of genetic modification of plants us Agency defense advanced research (DARPA) can be used to develop a new type of threat of biological weapons, according to German and French scientists. Their paper published in the journal Science, informs Rus.Media.
In November 2016, DARPA announced the launch of the program Insect Allies on the total amount of grants at $ 27 million: the program includes the development and testing deliver viruses in plants for their genetic modification directly in the fields by insects. In the summer of 2017, the Agency has concluded the first four-year contract for this program, in the experiments used the tomatoes and corn, and the insects are considered leafhoppers, whiteflies and aphids.
DARPA has positioned the program such horizontal editing genes in the environment, for example, using CRISPR technology (abbreviated HEGAA) as a way to help farmers combat drought, frost, pests, plant diseases and other typical agricultural problems. Richard Reeves (Richard Reeves) from the Institute of evolutionary biology max Planck and his colleagues believe that the technology HEGAA will not be especially beneficial for American farmers, and their implementation will inevitably face insurmountable barriers, which DARPA is silent.
“The program can be seen as efforts to develop biological agents for hostile action and the method of delivery that would be a violation of the biological weapons Convention,” the scientists write.
In particular, the authors embarrassed that neither DARPA nor the developers of new technologies do not say anything about that yet for plants, genetically modified, therefore, there is no national or international market, because no country, including the United States, there is no regulation that allows their creation and circulation. In addition, they note that the main argument for using insects as a means of delivering viruses, unavailability of tools spraying some farmers insolvent in case of American farmers, which allegedly conducted the program.
“Probably, the DARPA program could work with HEGAA and agricultural equipment without the use of insects. It is important that in this way it would be possible to achieve all advantages of this tool for conventional agriculture in peacetime. Reasonable, in this case, to ask: why do we need insects?”, – the article says.
Scientists have noted that in some documents the program DARPA is also described as a means of protection from uncertain threats, but in this case insects as a means of delivery for a less convenient, though, because that quickly to make enough of them is not so simple. But, in their opinion, “simple modifications to the program will sample the waiver of the mandatory limitation of insect life, which may not exceed two weeks – “will create a new class of biological weapons.”
“Specify that we do not consider the program Insect Allies bad just because she’s military funding… In our opinion, this is a bad idea due to the fact that there is no obvious simplification of the program using existing technology will allow creating predictable weapons quick action that poses a threat to any crops,” write the researchers.