A genetic technology that was crucial in the development of vaccines against CoV could also help fight the varroa mite, so dangerous to bees.
GreenLight Biosciences, a US company, is developing an RNA-based syrup against Varroa mites, the parasite that lives on bees and spreads disease. The mite often destroys entire hives and now has ecological and economic effects. This affects the US and Canada much more than Europe, as in North America beekeeping is much more commercialized and these hives are transported in trucks at pollination time to generally much larger areas and orchards.
The genetically modified syrup ensures that the mites can no longer reproduce, GreenLight managing director Mark Singleton explained to the Bloomberg business news agency how it works. The first – still small – tests showed that hives that were treated with it are significantly healthier and have a better chance of survival.
Unlike chemical agents currently used to control mites, RNA syrup does not harm bees and degrades naturally. The syrup is placed in a perforated envelope in the hive. Later in the year, GreenLight says it would like to submit the syrup to US authorities for approval.