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varroa mite

TIME: How the Tech Behind a COVID-19 Vaccine is Helping Save Bees

GreenLight Biosciences feature in TIME for its honey bee protection solution and RNA-based crop protection product pipeline

Technology used to develop Covid-19 vaccines may also help combat varroa mite – pest in honeybee beekeepers have been struggling to control for years.

A new tool is in the pipeline: Boston-based biotechnology company GreenLight Biosciences has developed an anti-mite RNA treatment for beehives that uses a similar technology to Pfizer’s breakout COVID-19 vaccine.

Learn more about GreenLight Biosciences honeybee protection solution here

Still in its infancy, this RNA-based technology heralds a new revolution in preventing disease and staving off pests across the agricultural spectrum, from the botrytis that beards blueberries and grapes with fuzzy gray mold to the Colorado potato beetle and maize-munching fall armyworm that are devastating crops from North America to southern Africa, and even the spider mites that suck sap from common houseplants. RNA manipulation has the potential to become a powerful new tool in the treatment of some of agriculture’s most pernicious pests, says Andrey Zarur, who co-founded GreenLight Biosciences in 2009, with the goal of finding biological solutions to the overuse of chemicals as pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides in the world’s food system. “RNA will be as revolutionary to our food supply as it has already been to human health through the COVID vaccines.”

Learn more about GreenLight Biosciences product pipeline here

Read the full Time article here

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GreenLight’s honeybee-saving RNA solution named finalist in World Changing Ideas Award

BOSTON, May 10, 2022—An RNA-based solution by GreenLight Biosciences designed to protect honeybees from the Varroa destructor mite was named a finalist by Fast Company for its 2022 World Changing Ideas Awards.

This is the first RNA-based solution that directly targets the mites, which have been detected in 90% of U.S. hives and which beekeepers call the primary threat to honeybee colonies today. In field trials, the solution lowers mite levels with strong efficacy compared to a leading chemical pest control.

“The technology at GreenLight, we’re testing it now, and we’ve seen it work,” said Barry Hart, owner of Hart Honey Farms in Georgia. A beekeeper since 1985, Hart said Varroa mites have decimated many of his hives.

GreenLight’s Varroa mite product candidate is currently undergoing tests in several states and is scheduled to be submitted for EPA approval in 2022.

About 3 million commercial honeybee colonies in the United States contribute to pollinating more than 100 crops annually, worth an estimated $15 billion. The Varroa mite reproduces in the same beehive cells as gestating bee larvae, grows up to parasitically feed on honeybees, and while doing so spreads disease, destroying colonies across the globe.

A limited number of chemical treatments are the current weapons in the fight against the Varroa mite. However, the traditional treatments come with side effects that may include bee death. Varroa mites have also developed resistance to several existing traditional chemical pesticides, which also require farmers to wear special protective gear and goggles to apply. GreenLight’s patented RNA technology only requires gloves.

“Crops pollinated by honeybees make up roughly a third of the food eaten by Americans, so declining populations of honeybees could have major consequences for food supply,” said Andrey Zarur, CEO of GreenLight Biosciences. “Our mission is to protect the species safely and effectively, and we are excited by Fast Company’s recognition for our achievements.”

GreenLight and other Fast Company nominees and award winners can be found here.

About GreenLight Biosciences

GreenLight Biosciences aims to address some of the world’s biggest problems by delivering on the full potential of RNA for human health and agriculture. Our RNA platform allows us to research, design, and manufacture for human, animal, and plant health. In human health, this includes messenger RNA vaccines and therapeutics. In agriculture, this includes RNA to protect honeybees and a range of crops. The company’s platform is protected by numerous patents. GreenLight’s human health product candidates are in the pre-clinical stage, and its product candidates for the agriculture market are in the early stages of development or regulatory review. GreenLight is a public benefit corporation that trades under the ticker GRNA on Nasdaq. For more information, visit

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a man looks over a slat of honeycomb

Protecting honey bees with RNA

You can find out more about our work to protect honeybees here.

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