In 1969, US President Richard Nixon ended all offensive aspects of the US bio-weapons program — the first category of weapons prohibited by an international treaty. In 1975, the US ratified both the 1925 Geneva Protocol and the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) — the international treaties outlawing biological warfare. But many reports from different sources offer reason to believe that the US military is developing a new generation of weapons in violation of the international treaties Washington is a party to.
An opinion paper published on Oct. 4 in the journal Science, written by an international group of researchers led by Richard Guy Reeves from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Germany, claims the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is potentially developing insects as a means of delivering a “new class of biological weapon.”
The official goal of Insect Allies, an ongoing research program, is to disperse infectious, genetically modified viruses that have been engineered to edit crop chromosomes directly in the field. But there is a reason to believe that the program is actually an effort to develop biological agents and a means of delivery intended for hostile purposes. If true, this would constitute a breach of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC).
The researchers warn the project could be used to create drought-resistant crops as an “agricultural bio-weapon.” The Washington Post cited Silja Voeneky, the co-author of the Science article and a professor of international law at the University of Freiburg, who stated, “We argue that there is the risk that the program is seen as not justified by peaceful purposes.” According to her, “To use insects as a vector to spread diseases is a classical bio-weapon.”
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