The Pentagon has accused of creating biological weapons

Пентагон обвинили в создании биологического оружия

DARPA is working on insects that spread of GM viruses. They say that they can be used both for defense and for attack.

A group of scientists has accused the Agency defense advanced research projects Pentagon DARPA is funding a program to create biological weapons.

The developers claim that the technology required to improve the properties of plants and will be used only for good. Корреспондент.net tells details.

 

Genetically modified insects

In November 2016, DARPA announced the launch of the program Insect Allies (Insects allies) on the total amount of grants at $ 27 million. Its essence is to learn to edit genes in adult plants by insects, infected with a special virus. Work on the program four from the American University.

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, which are for plants normal vectors of disease.

It is assumed that by using viruses, which will be built in technology for editing genes, they will change the genes of adult plants and, for example, increase their stability to the different conditions. For the experiments used corn and tomato.

The Pentagon says that the horizontal edit genes in the environment, for example, using CRISPR technology, is designed to help farmers in drought, frost, pests, plant diseases and other typical agricultural problems.

At DARPA say the development of technology will allow us to take emergency measures which will begin to operate during the agricultural season, while other methods (including pesticides, quarantine, destruction of plants) “is often ineffective against rapidly evolving threats and is not suitable for recovery of adult plants”.

 

New biological weapons

Biologists Richard guy Reeves and Derek Caetano-Anolles of the German Institute for evolutionary biology max Planck biologist Christoph Boethiah from the Institute of evolutionary Sciences of Montpellier, lawyers Sila Fence and Felix Beck from the University of Freiburg in an article in the journal Science wrote that the program of genetic modification of plants can be used by DARPA to develop a new type of threat of biological weapons.

The scientists in the article you write that Vedrana such technologies will inevitably face insurmountable barriers, which DARPA is silent.

“The program can generally be considered 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.

The Convention implies the prohibition of the development, production and stockpiling of bacteriological (biological) and toxin weapons and the destruction of the existing one.

The article emphasizes that such products will find no place in the United States or any other country, because there is no regulation allowing for their creation and circulation.

They also throws the main argument DARPA in favor of the use of insects – the lack of tools spraying for some farms. In the case of American farmers it is irrelevant.

However, only small changes in technology, which is expected to develop, will create “a new class of biological weapons”, say scientists.

For example, it is sufficient to produce a field infested with insects, not limiting the term of their life (in the framework of the program is supposed to limit).

In addition, the program announcement could push other countries to work on similar projects.

“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 actions that pose a threat to any crops,” write the researchers.

Scientists believe that such work should be accompanied by scientific and public debate – including on the regulation in case of market entry of transgenic virus-infected plants.

 

The Pentagon denies

Project Manager Blake Bechstein denies all claims of scientists, called the article defamatory and noted that extremely upset that it was published in Science.

“DARPA creates biological weapons or methods of delivery. If we wanted to develop biological weapons, would we ask the universities to offer their ideas for research,” he said.

At the same time, in an interview with the Washington Post, Beckstein acknowledged that a number of technologies developed in the framework of the Insect Allies, may have “dual purpose” and can be used both in defence and attack.

“I think in the development of any revolutionary technology has a potential dual use. But that’s not what we do. We improve plants, we focused on positive goals. We want to ensure food security because food security is national security in our eyes,” he said.

 

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