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US Military Mulls Using Insects To Modify Plant Genes


A research wing of the American military is exploring the possible deployment of insects in order to bring about certain changes in the genes of plants. A paper was published in which the authors of the paper state that the USA needs to justify in better ways why and how they have undertaken their Insects Allies Project. This should be done so that other countries and nations do not perceive them as hostile. The peace-time purpose of the project requires urgent justification, say the authors. This opinion was published on Thursday in the journal Science.

The research arm or agency of the US military force says that it has never kept its thoughts behind the project hidden. Its goal regarding the protection of the country’s food supply from dangers and threats like bioterrorism, crop disease and drought has always been out in the open for everyone to see and understand. It says that necessary briefing was given to the State Department in order to make sure that the work or the project in no way violates or goes against international treaties and relations with other countries. The department clearly stated that the project is being undertaken solely for peaceful purposes and it will in no way violate the Biological Weapons Convention. This project is however different from the project on genetically modified seeds as it aims to alter and make changes in crops which are already growing in fields. This project by the US military could turn insects into a class of ‘biological weapons’.

However, security and ethical concerns were expressed by experts. Head of the DARPA or the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Blake Bextine, said that ‘food security is the national security’. The US Agriculture Department said that its scientists are a part of this research which is being conducted in contained laboratories.

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