China’s English-language Global Times newspaper admitted the “conflict between Russia and Ukraine has led to a global food crisis,” without noting which country had attacked the other. However, they did state that the main threat is a U.S. militarism program dubbed “Insect Allies” that uses bugs to transmit a “genetically engineered virus” that “could affect crop growth by altering which genes the plants express.”
The Global Times breathlessly claimed “experts” are worried the United States is about to unleash an all-out bio-warfare using bugs. According to it, the motives of the Pentagon are also under scrutiny. Are they actually to help save the world from starvation or instead deliberately create a humanitarian crisis to fulfill certain “military aims.”
Experts contacted by the Global Times concluded that Insect Allies is turning this problem into a real threat. “Why do they use insects as carriers? Why does the US build bio-labs near other countries like Russia? When Pandora's Box is opened, a series of disasters will follow,” claimed an expert. But this is only the tip of the iceberg of a project that has the potential to become a biological-weapons threat. In addition to the Insect Allies project, it is also known that the US has conducted experiments using biological substances all over the world in well-known “bio-labs,” disregarding human safety and ethical standards while breaking the lawful requirements of the “Biological Weapons Convention.”
The Chinese Communist paper admitted later that the Insect Allies program was announced by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in 2016. Its concept was to find an approach to introduce genes to crops using insects. They are the main source of transmission for the most destructive plant viruses. Researchers had hoped that a similar technology would be able to help save crops by making living crops more immune to diseases that cause food shortages instead of simply letting plants die and replacing them with genetically modified virus-resistant plants.
DARPA claimed that insects could offer an efficient, cost-effective, and secure means of spreading protection against viruses as compared to industrial sprayers. The agency was hoping Insect Allies could become effective enough to shield crops from flooding, drought, and frost. In the beginning, the Insect Allies concept was immediately received with some doubt as to whether it would be effective, as well as conspiracy theories about the ways it could be used to deliver dangerous agents.
A significant criticism of the program in 2016 asked whether DARPA could be working on Insect Allies because U.S. intelligence officials believed that a hostile nation was already developing insect-borne genetic weapons. DARPA has not made any statements about imminent threats, but it did state that Insect Allies could become an effective defense against “threats introduced by state or non-state actors.”
DARPA rejected conspiracy theories, saying that although it acknowledged concerns about “potential dual use of technology” to harm people, Insect Allies should be considered a “transparent and university-led research project” that is carried out under strict biosecurity guidelines.
Its Global Times editorial was essentially just a collection of anything negative its authors could locate people saying concerning Insect Allies with a quick online search. They then stitched the remarks together to create a propaganda saga based on Chinese and Russian conspiracy theories, such as U.S. bioweapons laboratories in Ukraine. Obviously, these efforts stem partly from China's persistent desire to block studies into the nature of the Wuhan coronavirus.