Genetic Modification News StoriesExcerpts of Key Genetic Modification News Stories in Major Media
Note: This comprehensive list of genetically modified organisms news stories is usually updated once a week. Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news stories on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.
The push for a "green revolution" in Africa ... has spent $1 billion to date, much of it from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. As an annual African farming summit takes place this week in Rwanda, activists, farmers and faith leaders from Seattle to Nairobi are calling on the Gates Foundation and other funders to stop supporting an effort they say has failed to deliver on promises to radically reduce hunger and increase farmer productivity. Critics say the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, founded in 2006 with money from the Gates and Rockefeller foundations, has promoted an industrial model of agriculture that poisons soils with chemicals and encourages farmers to go into debt by buying expensive seeds, fertilizers and pesticides. As a result of that debt, some farmers have had to sell their land or household goods like stoves and TVs, said Celestine Otieno and Anne Maina, both active with organizations in Kenya advocating for ecologically friendly practices. "I think it's the second phase of colonization," Otieno said. A donor-funded evaluation last December ... found "AGRA did not meet its headline goal of increased incomes and food security." Peter Little, director of the global development program at Emory University, puts it another way: "I don't think it's come close to what it promised to do." The criticism ... has clearly stung. This week, AGRA is launching a rebranding that drops the term "green revolution" from the organization's name, to be known from now on by its acronym only.
Note: Read a sobering open letter to Bill Gates written by 50 food sovereignty organizations that reveals how the "Green Revolution" and genetic engineering technologies have done the opposite of reducing hunger and increasing food access. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption from reliable major media sources.
More than 80% of urine samples drawn from children and adults in a US health study contained a weedkilling chemical linked to cancer, a finding scientists have called "disturbing" and "concerning". The report by a unit of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that out of 2,310 urine samples, taken from a group of Americans intended to be representative of the US population, 1,885 were laced with detectable traces of glyphosate. This is the active ingredient in herbicides sold around the world, including the widely used Roundup brand. Almost a third of the participants were children. [Lianne] Sheppard co-authored a 2019 analysis of people highly exposed to glyphosate, which concluded there was a "compelling link" between glyphosate and an increased risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Both the amount and prevalence of glyphosate found in human urine has been rising steadily since the 1990s when Monsanto Co. introduced genetically engineered crops designed to be sprayed directly with Roundup, according to research published in 2017. The weedkiller is sprayed directly over genetically engineered crops such as corn and soybeans, and also over non-genetically engineered crops such as wheat and oats as a desiccant to dry crops out prior to harvest. It is considered the most widely used herbicide in history. The International Agency for Research on Cancer, a unit of the World Health Organization ... classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen in 2015.
Note: Instead of relying on independent science, the EPA used industry studies to determine that glyphosate was safe. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on GMOs and health from reliable major media sources.
Glyphosate, an herbicide that remains the world's most ubiquitous weed killer, raises the cancer risk of those exposed to it by 41%, a new analysis says. Researchers from the University of Washington evaluated existing studies into the chemical – found in weed killers including Monsanto's popular Roundup – and concluded that it significantly increases the risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), a cancer of the immune system. "All of the meta-analyses conducted to date, including our own, consistently report the same key finding: exposure to GBHs (glyphosate-based herbicides) are associated with an increased risk of NHL," the authors wrote in a study published in the journal Mutation Research. In 2015 ... the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as "probably carcinogenic to humans." Moreover, the chemical has triggered multiple lawsuits from people who believe that exposure to the herbicide caused their non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. In 2017 ... more than 800 people were suing Monsanto; by the following year, that figure was in the thousands. The authors of the University of Washington report analyzed all published studies on the impact of glyphosate on humans. Co-author ... Rachel Shaffer said: "This research provides the most up-to-date analysis of glyphosate and its link with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, incorporating a 2018 study of more than 54,000 people who work as licensed pesticide applicators." The scientists also assessed studies on animals.
Note: Instead of relying on independent science, the EPA used industry studies to determine that glyphosate was safe. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and health from reliable major media sources.
In October 1995 ... the Scottish Office commissioned a research project from the Aberdeen-based Rowett Research Institute into the effect of GM crops on animal nutrition and the environment. This included, for the first time, feeding GM potatoes to rats to see if they had any harmful effects on their guts, bodies, metabolism and health. A former senior Scottish Office official involved in commissioning the project told the Guardian there was "little regard" at the time for research into the human nutritional and environmental consequences of GM foods. Dr Arpad Pusztai, a senior research scientist at the Rowett, beat off 28 other tenders to coordinate the project. The preliminary results of Dr Pusztai's work had begun to show unexpected and worrying changes in the size and weight of the rats' bodily organs. The team found liver and heart sizes were decreasing. Worse still, the brain was getting smaller. There were also indications of a weakening of the immune system. Granada TV's World in Action approached Dr Pusztai and ... with the institute's consent he gave an interview. Dr Pusztai told ITV viewers that he would not eat GM food. He found it "very, very unfair to use our fellow citizens as guinea pigs. We have to find [the results] in the laboratory," he insisted. Two days later Dr Pusztai was summarily suspended and forced to retire by the Rowett Institute's director, Professor Philip James, who had personally cleared the interview with Granada.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on GMOs from reliable major media sources.
The future is decidedly not female for California mosquitoes, or at least that's what researchers hope to achieve when they unleash up to 2.4 billion genetically altered males into the West Coast state starting this summer in an attempt to control the booming populations. The Environmental Protection Agency announced last month that biotech firm Oxitec had received approval to expand its existing pilot program in Florida into California's Central Valley, a campaign that would run through 2024 and release a maximum of 2.4 billion over that time span. By expanding the share of male offspring born each season, it would decrease the chances of female biting mosquitoes from spreading deadly diseases like Zika, dengue and yellow fever. Researchers at Oxitec paired a special protein to the male so that when it mates with a biting female, the only viable offspring that results are more non-biting males. The targeted group is the Aedes aegypti mosquito. California has not yet noted an uptick in the diseases the pests are capable of spreading.
Note: Why does California want to gamble with this risky intervention in nature when these diseases are not even a significant problem there? The release of these GMO mosquitoes in Florida provoked fierce local opposition. Oxitec received millions from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation when initially testing these bugs in the wild. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on GMOs from reliable major media sources.
Say goodbye to GMOs. The new term for foods created with a boost from science is "bioengineered." As of Jan. 1, food manufacturers, importers and retailers in the U.S. must comply with a new national labeling standard for food that's been genetically modified in a way that isn't possible through natural growth. Consumers will begin to see labels on some foods that say "bioengineered" or "derived from bioengineering," as the new federal standard takes hold. The change has been several years in the making. In 2016, Congress passed a law to establish a national benchmark for the labeling of genetically modified food in an attempt to ... standardize labels across the country. Sonny Perdue, who served as agriculture secretary during the Trump administration, announced the regulations in 2018. But critics say the rules devised by the U.S. Department of Agriculture will actually confuse consumers further and make it harder to know what's in any given product. One advocacy group has even sued the USDA to try to block the new regulations from taking effect. Companies with products that qualify as bioengineered can comply with the new standard in several ways. They can include text on food packages that says "bioengineered food" or "contains a bioengineered food ingredient." They can also use two logos approved by the USDA. Finally, they can include a QR code for consumers to scan or a phone number for them to text that will provide more information about that food item.
Note: Replacing clear package labeling with QR codes is inherently discriminatory. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption from reliable major media sources.
Arpad Pusztai spoke for only two and a half minutes during his interview for ITN's World in Action in 1998, but it was enough to end his career. The Hungarian-born expert in lectins, a type of protein, had spent decades working at the Rowett Institute in Aberdeen and had almost 300 scientific papers and three books to his name. In the mid-1990s, with big food manufacturers increasingly developing and promoting genetically modified crops, he had been asked to investigate the effect that their products, specifically GM potatoes, could have on rats. His data showed that those being fed GM potatoes experienced stunted organ and brain growth and disturbance to their immune systems. Pusztai ... agreed to discuss his research on television in the hope of attracting new funding. His comments, which were promoted by the programme in a press release headed "new health fears over 'Frankenstein' food", started a media frenzy. Pusztai was suspended and his raw data was seized. According to [author Andrew] Rowell: "All GM work was stopped immediately and Pusztai's team was dispersed. His three PhD students were moved to other areas. He was threatened with legal action if he spoke to anyone. His phone calls and emails were diverted. No one was allowed to speak to him either." In Pusztai's telling ... the Rowett Institute came under pressure from senior figures in the government and the food industry. Two employees told him that the institute had taken calls from the office of Tony Blair, the prime minister.
Note: Read more about this important scientist. And for more on the dangers of GM food, see this important book summary. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption and GMOs from reliable major media sources.
Researchers in the United States have developed a new method for controlling the brain circuits associated with complex animal behaviours, using genetic engineering to create a magnetised protein that activates specific groups of nerve cells from a distance. The new technique ... is not only non-invasive, but can also activate neurons rapidly and reversibly. Several earlier studies have shown that nerve cell proteins which are activated by heat and mechanical pressure can be genetically engineered so that they become sensitive to radio waves and magnetic fields. The new technique builds on this earlier work, and is based on a protein called TRPV4, which is sensitive to both temperature and stretching forces. These stimuli open its central pore, allowing electrical current to flow through the cell membrane; this evokes nervous impulses that travel into the spinal cord and then up to the brain. In one final experiment, the researchers injected Magneto into the striatum of freely behaving mice ... and then placed the animals into an apparatus split into magnetised a non-magnetised sections. Mice expressing Magneto spent far more time in the magnetised areas than mice that did not, because activation of the protein caused the striatal neurons expressing it to release dopamine, so that the mice found being in those areas rewarding. This shows that Magneto can remotely control the firing of neurons deep within the brain, and also control complex behaviours.
Note: This work is reminiscent of the development of microchip implants for behavioral control. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on mind control from reliable major media sources.
The first release of genetically modified mosquitoes in the United States began this week in the Florida Keys - the culmination of a decade-long effort by local mosquito control authorities to see if a genetically modified organism is a viable alternative to spraying insecticides in the region. For the first 12-week phase, blue-and-white boxes containing about 12,000 GMO eggs developed by a US-owned, British-based company called Oxitec have been placed in six small areas of Ramrod Key, Cudjoe Key and Vaca Key. When water is added, the mosquitoes hatch, mature and enter the environment over the next week or so. A small, vocal group of Florida Key residents have fought the release of what they call "mutant mosquitoes" since the project was announced - and they are incensed. "Our opposition has been long and strong," said Barry Wray, the executive director of the Florida Keys Environmental Coalition. "We live here, this our home, and they're forcing this down people's throats." The Florida Keys project, greenlit by the US Environment Protection Agency in May 2020, was approved to release up to 750 million genetically altered mosquitoes in 2021 and 2022. The program's target: Aedes aegypti, an invasive species of mosquito. Oxitec's solution to the problem is OX5034 - a 2.0 version of its original Aedes aegypti modification. Unlike version 1.0, designed to kill all offspring, the newer model has been genetically altered to pass along a lethal gene that only kills females.
The latest study to look at the long-term effects of Roundup, a popular weed killer developed by Monsanto in the 1970s, raises questions about the herbicide's possible contributions to poor health in certain communities. The study, published Tuesday in JAMA, tracked people over the age of 50 in southern California from 1993-1996 to 2014-2016, with researchers periodically collecting urine samples during that time. The percentage of people who tested positive for a chemical called glyphosate, which is the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup, shot up by 500% in that time period. The levels of glyphosate also spiked by 1208% during that time. One trial from the UK, in which rats were fed low levels of glyphosate throughout their lives, found that the chemical contributed to a higher risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, a condition in which fat accumulates in the liver and contributes to inflammation and scarring of the tissue. [Researcher Paul] Mills says that the levels of glyphosate documented in the people in his study were 100-fold greater than those in the rats. While Roundup was developed to eliminate most weeds from genetically modified crops – and thus reduce the amount of pesticides sprayed on them – recent studies have found that many weeds are now resistant to Roundup. That means growers are using more Roundup, which could only exacerbate potential negative health effects on people who consume those products.
Note: Bayer recently agreed to a $10 billion settlement over claims that its glyphosate-containing product RoundUp causes cancer. Meanwhile, Mexico is banning glyphosate and GMO corn. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption and GMOs from reliable major media sources.
Mexico is sticking to a plan to stop importing genetically modified corn and a ban on a widely used herbicide, a senior official told Reuters, doubling down on a policy that has pleased green advocates but alarmed industry leaders. The plan announced late last year by executive order aims to replace some 16 million tonnes of yellow corn imported mostly from U.S. farmers and nearly all of it genetically modified, with new, local production by 2024. Victor Suarez, the deputy agriculture minister and a key architect of the order, argued that GMO corn and the herbicide glyphosate are too dangerous and that local output and sustainable "agroecological" practices must be prioritized. He cited studies linking glyphosate to cancer and saying that it harmed pollinators like bees and separately alleged that GMO corn contaminates Mexico's native strains of the grain. "We have to put the right to life, the right to health, the right to a healthy environment ahead of economic and business (interests)," said the former congressman. Mexico is mostly self-sufficient in white corn, used for the country's staple tortillas, but meat producers have for years relied on growing volumes of yellow corn imports to fatten cows, pigs and chickens. Asked if the Dec. 31 decree applied to animal feed as well processed foods that include GMO corn, Suarez said that the law covers all food that "will eventually reach human consumption."
Monsanto owner Bayer AG and industry lobbyist CropLife America have been working closely with US officials to pressure Mexico into abandoning its intended ban on glyphosate, a pesticide linked to cancer that is the key ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup weedkillers. The moves to protect glyphosate shipments to Mexico have played out over the last 18 months, a period in which Bayer was negotiating an $11bn settlement of legal claims brought by people in the US who say they developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma due to exposure to the company's glyphosate-based products. The pressure on Mexico is similar to actions Bayer and chemical industry lobbyists took to kill a glyphosate ban planned by Thailand in 2019. Records show alarm starting to grow in the latter part of 2019 after Mexico said it was refusing imports of glyphosate from China. In denying a permit for an import shipment, Mexican officials cited the "precautionary principle", which generally refers to a policy of erring on the side of caution. Industry executives told US government officials that they feared restricting glyphosate would lead to limits on other pesticides and could set a precedent for other countries to do the same. Mexico may also reduce the levels of pesticide residues allowed in food, industry executives warned. "If Mexico extends the precautionary principle" to pesticide residue levels in food, "$20bn in US annual agricultural exports to Mexico will be jeopardized", [CropLife president Chris] Novak wrote to US officials.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption from reliable major media sources.
The government illegally approved a breed of genetically engineered salmon without assessing the harm the fish might cause if they escaped their confines and interbred with other salmon species, a federal judge ruled. The Food and Drug Administration agreed in 2015, under President Barack Obama's administration, to allow AquaBounty Technologies to produce the fish, which is an Atlantic salmon that has been infused with a growth hormone gene from Pacific salmon, also known as chinook, and DNA from a slithery creature known as an eelpout. But U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria of San Francisco said the FDA had failed to consider or study what would happen if the genetically engineered salmon slipped out and reached waters inhabited by other salmon. "They may directly interact with wild salmon, such as by mating or simply by competing for resources," Chhabria said in a ruling on a lawsuit by environmental, consumer and fishing organizations. "Even if this scenario was unlikely, the FDA was still required to assess the consequences," especially since the agency knew AquaBounty's facilities were likely to grow, he said. "Before starting the country down a road that could well lead to commercial production of genetically engineered fish on a large scale, the FDA should have developed a full understanding – and provided a full explanation – of the potential environmental consequences," Chhabria said. The FDA did not say whether it would appeal the ruling.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
US authorities have approved a plan to release more than 750 million genetically modified mosquitoes across the Florida Keys, despite objections from local residents. British-based firm Oxitec are behind the project that will test whether the altered mosquitoes can work as an alternative to pesticides to control the spread of diseases. The male mosquito, which is named OX5034, has been created to produce female offspring that die at larval stage, before they grow big enough to spread disease and bite. Female mosquitoes bite for blood while they mature their eggs, but males do not carry the diseases as they feed on nectar. The mosquitoes will be released in the Florida Keys in 2021, but will be expanded into Harris County, Texas, after the Environmental Protection Agency granted Oxitec’s request for an experimental use permit. Jaydee Hanson, policy director for the International Centre for Technology Assessment and Centre for Food Safety ... criticized the decision. “What could possibly go wrong? We don’t know, because EPA unlawfully refused to seriously analyze environmental risks. Now without further review of the risks, the experiment can proceed,” Mr Hanson [said]. Since the initial announcement of the project in May, more than 230,000 people have signed a petition against the proposal, which was supported by more than 30 local physicians. Local media reported that residents were unhappy to be treated as “guinea pigs” for the experiment.
Note: Read more about the controversy surrounding Oxitec's genetically altered mosquitoes. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on GMOs from reliable major media sources.
Warren D. Ward, 48, was in high school when the swine flu threat of 1976 swept the U.S. A relative died in the 1918 flu pandemic, and the 1976 illness was feared to be a direct descendant of the deadly virus. “The government wanted everyone to get vaccinated,” Ward said. “But the epidemic never really broke out. It was a threat that never materialized.” The episode began in February 1976, when an Army recruit at Ft. Dix, N.J., fell ill and died from a swine flu virus thought to be similar to the 1918 strain. Several other soldiers at the base also became ill. The CDC ... called on President Ford and Congress to begin a mass inoculation. The $137-million program began in early October, but within days reports emerged that the vaccine appeared to increase the risk for Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare neurological condition that causes temporary paralysis but can be fatal. More than 40 million Americans ... received the swine flu vaccine before the program was halted in December after 10 weeks. More than 500 people are thought to have developed Guillain-Barre syndrome after receiving the vaccine; 25 died. Only about 200 cases of swine flu and one death were ultimately reported. No one completely understands the causes of Guillain-Barre, but the condition can develop after a bout with infection or following surgery or vaccination. The federal government paid millions in damages. The pandemic, which some experts estimated at the time could infect 50 million to 60 million Americans, never unfolded.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on vaccines from reliable major media sources.
One of the most powerful Big Food lobbyists wants to change its image. The Grocery Manufacturers Association ... is planning to change its name to the Consumer Brands Association in 2020, a sign the group is trying to distance itself from past troubles. In the past two years, food companies like Campbell, Kraft Heinz, Nestle, Hershey and Unilever have left the GMA, amid disputes. Among the issues that were fiercely debated were how and when to disclose the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The organization says each of the former members left for individual reasons, but the common thread was a failure by the organization to adapt as consumer sentiments and trends were evolving. “Gone are the days when we could have one face to policymakers and a different one to consumers,” said GMA President and CEO Geoff Freeman. ″Policymakers have little to no influence on the decisions consumers make,” he said. The organization’s agenda is based on the industry’s realization that it must react to consumers’ demands, rather than fight them, Freeman said. The new name more clearly identifies the companies in its membership: branded names in food, beverage, personal care and household products. GMA wants to fix what it believes is a broken system to help address the country’s recycling crisis. The U.S. does not have uniform recycling laws, which has led to contamination of shipments meant for recycling. Exacerbating this issue, China ... has begun to refuse America’s garbage.
Note: In 2016, the Grocery Manufacturers Association was forced to pay $18 million in damages for violating Washington State law in its opposition to a GMO labeling initiative. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption from reliable major media sources.
In November, Dr. He Jiankui announced that twin girls had been born in China from embryos whose genes he had altered using CRISPR gene-editing technology. According to the magazine Science, he hoped to build a baby-designing business. In March, a World Health Organization committee argued for a moratorium on clinical human genome editing "until its implications have been properly considered." But no system of global guidance exists to implement or enforce such a ban on the practice. In June, a Russian scientist declared that he plans to proceed anyway. You can imagine what bad actors with eugenic fantasies could do with this technology. But today, many parents, with the best interest of their future children in mind, choose embryos based on the genes inside. Since 1978, when the first child, Louise Brown, was born using in-vitro fertilization, this and other assisted reproductive technologies have expanded immensely, creating over a million babies. Because preimplantation genetic diagnosis allows parents to avoid transmitting mutations to children, CRISPR will unfortunately probably be used to enhance progeny with socially desired traits such as height, certain athletic abilities or intelligence. Such uses will be very profitable. Due to high costs, assisted reproductive technologies, including preimplantation genetic diagnosis, are not available to everyone and are thus altering how thousands of affluent people -- but not poorer individuals -- thrive and live.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on health from reliable major media sources.
Soon, soybeans will be bred to yield stable oil without the addition of dangerous trans fats. Lettuce will be grown to handle warmer, drier fields. Wheat to contain less gluten. And pigs bred to resist deadly viruses. Ten years ago, such genetic changes would have been considered science fiction – or so far off into the future of breeding as to be almost unimaginable. But gene editing, particularly with a tool called Crispr-Cas9, has made it much easier and more efficient to tinker with the genomes of plants and animals. The first Crispr-edited products will begin reaching the market this year, and researchers believe it’s only a matter of time before US grocery shelves could be filled with gene-edited produce, grains and meat. The technology will be subject to stringent health and environment review, as well as labeling requirements in the EU, but not in the US. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a statement last March saying it would not regulate crops whose genetic changes could have been produced with conventional breeding. The European court of justice, by contrast, ruled last summer that gene-edited crops should be regulated as GMOs. The scientific challenges have been largely settled. But political and social ones remain. Jennifer Kuzma, co-director of the Genetic Engineering and Society Center at North Carolina State University, said US consumers are willing to pay 20% more to avoid GMO foods, and nearly half of the public reports actively avoiding genetically modified ingredients and food.
Note: Read an excellent addendum to this important article by GMO expert Jeffrey Smith recommending caution in these little-tested new products. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on GMOs and food system corruption from reliable major media sources.
Near Tampa Bay, Florida, I watched airboats move up and down the river banks, spraying massive plumes of weedkiller. The main active ingredient in that mist ... is glyphosate. It is now an ingredient in more than 750 products, including ... Monsanto’s Roundup. This August, the jury in a civil trial found Monsanto, which was acquired [by] Bayer, guilty of causing the cancer of Dewayne Johnson, a school groundskeeper. Roughly 8,700 similar cases against Monsanto are also before the courts. Almonds, carrots, quinoa, soy products, vegetable oil, corn and corn oil, canola seeds used in canola oil, beets and beet sugar, sweet potatoes – these are just some of the foodstuffs which typically contain high levels of glyphosate. Research released in August by the non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that Cheerios, Quaker Old Fashioned Oats and at least 29 other popular breakfast foods contained what the EWG considers unsafe quantities of the herbicide. The environmental group has been urging public action to get the EPA to revise its outdated standards, which currently fail to protect the public from glyphosate in foods. Levels of glyphosate in the bodies of people in some areas appear to have jumped over 1,300% in the past 20 years. Unlike pharmaceuticals, which have to go through relatively rigorous (if imperfect) testing before being released on the marketplace, the vast majority of chemicals like glyphosate will never be adequately tested for their effects on ecosystems or human beings.
The Pentagon is studying whether insects can be enlisted to combat crop loss during agricultural emergencies. The bugs would carry genetically engineered viruses that could be deployed rapidly if critical crops such as corn or wheat became vulnerable to a drought, a natural blight or a sudden attack by a biological weapon. The concept envisions the viruses making genetic modifications ... during a single growing season. The program, funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), has a warm and fuzzy name: “Insect Allies.” But some critics find the whole thing creepy. A team of skeptical scientists and legal scholars published an article in the journal Science on Thursday arguing that the Insect Allies program opens a “Pandora’s box" and involves technology that “may be widely perceived as an effort to develop biological agents for hostile purposes and their means of delivery.” The authors ... contend that Insect Allies could potentially be interpreted as a violation of an international treaty called the Biological Weapons Convention. “We argue that there is the risk that the program is seen as not justified by peaceful purposes,” [said] co-author Silja Voeneky, a professor of international law. She said the use of insects as a key feature of the program is particularly alarming, because insects could be deployed cheaply and surreptitiously by malevolent actors.
Important Note: Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news stories on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.