In their quest to supply the U.S. military with all of the most cutting-edge tools of death and destruction possible, DARPA occasionally gets up to some seriously spooky stuff. While many of their projects are the stuff of urban legends and conspiracy theories, DARPA makes no secret of the fact that they are constantly looking for ways to turn humans and animals alike into cybernetic organisms capable of spreading good ol’ fashioned AMERICAN FREEDOM® around the globe, one toppled regime at a time. One of their current projects has come under scrutiny this week after it has been claimed that a DARPA research project is looking into ways to turn insects into virus-spreading bioweapons.
In a paper titled “Agricultural Research, or a New Bioweapon System?”, a group of scientists and whistleblowers allege that DARPA’s new “Insect Allies” program might be more nefarious than it seems. Then again, how much more nefarious can a program called “Insect Allies” seem? The paper has been published in Science and accuses the program of turning genetically modified insects into bioweapon delivery systems. If true, the authors write, this program would be illegal according to international law:
An ongoing research program funded by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) aims to disperse infectious genetically modified viruses that have been engineered to edit crop chromosomes directly in fields. [...] The program may be widely perceived as an effort to develop biological agents for hostile purposes and their means of delivery, which—if true—would constitute a breach of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC).
Of course DARPA is throwing up their hands and professing innocence. A DARPA spokesperson defended the program by claiming these Insect Allies are designed only “to harness the power of this natural system by engineering genes inside plant viruses that can be transmitted by insects to confer protective traits to the target plants they feed upon.”
Regardless of whether or not Insect Allies is for protecting our own crops or destroying our adversaries’ crops, let’s ask ourselves if we really want genetically modified virus-carrying insects flying around. I’m no scientist, but it seems like all it would take is a few random mutations before there’s a great zombie movie plot becoming a real-life catastrophe.
But who cares what we think, am I right? If the American military industrial complex teaches us anything, it's that you can't stop PROGRESS®.