Enlisting Insects to Protect Agricultural Crops

ROSE COVERED GLASSES

conceptartinsectalliesoctober32016v4final619-316Image Sources: Shutterstock, National Institutes of Health, Creative Commons / E. Mohmand / CIMMYT)

“DEFENSE ADVANCED RESEARCH PROJECTS AGENCY”

“DARPA aims to transform certain insect pests into ‘Insect Allies’

A new DARPA program is poised to provide an alternative to traditional agricultural threat response, using targeted gene therapy to protect mature plants within a single growing season.

It may not be obvious to humans, but the life of a plant is full of peril. Viruses, pests, fungi, herbicides, drought, pollution, salinity, flooding, and frost—the plants that we depend on for food, clean air, and materials are challenged by myriad threats, natural and man-made. By extension, human populations are put at risk when food security is challenged and the agricultural underpinnings of our economies are destabilized, especially when threats emerge rapidly or unexpectedly.

Farmers and others responsible for plant health use longstanding tools such as crop rotation, selective breeding, pesticides, slash-and-burn…

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