Risky protection of plants with viruses

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To make crops more suitable, scientists want to transmit genetically modified insect viruses to crops. The discussion of the possibilities and risks of this process is obviously appropriate. -> Video

The Department of Defense's research agency research program raises concerns about the misuse of biological warfare research.

In late 2016, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), an agency of the US Department of Defense that funded research projects for the ministry, made public its four-year research program. It funds projects worth a total of $ 27 million to release genetically modified viruses that can alter the genetic material of crops in the field.

In a project called Insect Allies ("Allies / Allied Insects"), insects will serve as a means of transporting plant viruses and transmitting them to crops. Viruses can modify the genome of the affected plants through so-called genome editing.

In this way, plants already growing in the fields, such as corn or tomatoes, can be genetically modified quickly and to a great extent. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön and universities in Freiburg and Montpellier point out in the journal Science that such a system can be relatively easily manipulated and used as a biological weapon.

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