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The Economist: RNA for Bees and Crops

May 22, 2021

Greenlight Biosciences is featured heavily in this piece by The Economist about using RNA to protect bees and crops.

Greenlight Biosciences is featured heavily in this piece by The Economist about using RNA to protect bees and crops. It includes taking on varroa mites and the colorado potato beetle. Extracts from the article are below.

That the mites spend so much time hidden in the honeycomb makes them hard to attack. And this is where GreenLight hopes its rna will win through. In field trials in the state of Georgia the firm’s operatives are feeding Varroa-destroying rna to the bees themselves—mixing it in sugar water which the workers drink and make honey from. This lays a biotechnological trap for the mites by lacing any honey in their birthplace with the stuff. By lowering the cost of rna production and so allowing much more of it to be used, Mr Zarur thinks he can deliver more rna to the mites, succeeding where Bayer and others did not…

Varroa mites are not, though, the only pests in GreenLight’s crosshairs. It also has its sights trained on Colorado potato beetles, which can devastate crops if not controlled. In their case the rna is simply sprayed onto an infested field and the beetles munch it up…

GreenLight employs a process called cell-free biology, which is more akin to chemistry than conventional biotechnology. Eliminating the need to coddle fussy micro-organisms, says Mr Zarur, simplifies and cheapens things dramatically…


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