RNA Interference in Agriculture: Methods, Applications, and Governance

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RNA Interference in Agriculture: Methods, Applications, and Governance

DOI: https://doi.org/10.62300/IRNE9191

RNA interference (RNAi) is a naturally occurring gene silencing mechanism conserved across organisms with a clearly defined cell nucleus (eukaryotes). Gene silencing by RNAi through the degradation of a target messenger RNA (mRNA) has historically been used as a research tool to study the function of genes. Over the past two decades, silencing of vital genes through RNAi has been explored for agricultural applications, including managing plant insect pests and pathogens, improving plant agronomic traits, and increasing consumer desirability of food. Using RNAi for crop protection is especially attractive because of its high specificity, which minimizes unintended effects on non-target organisms and improves the safety profile of RNAi products.

This paper describes how RNAi functions, its current applications in agriculture, the current regulatory views of RNAi-based pesticides, and concludes with a discussion of current challenges for the commercial application of RNAi in agriculture. The content presented is intended to serve as a resource for regulatory agencies, policy and lawmakers, private and public institutions, and the general public to inform regulatory assessments and consumer choice decisions.

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Ana María Vélez Arango, Associate Professor, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Lincoln, NE

Kenneth Narva, Head of Entomology, GreenLight Biosciences, Inc, Durham, NC


Molly Darlington, Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE

Juan Luis Jurat-Fuentes, Professor, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN

Karl-Heinz Kogel, Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen, Gießen, Hesse, Germany

Keerti S. Rathore, Professor, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX

Guy Smagghe, Professor, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium

Steve Whyard, Professor, University of Winnipeg, Winnipeg, Manitoba


David Baltensperger, Professor, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX

Raymond Dobert, Senior Policy Manager, Bayer, St. Louis, MO

Amanda Pierce, Senior Advisor, United States Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C.

Blair Siegfried, Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education, Penn State University, University Park, PA

CAST Liaison

Carroll Moseley, Head of State Regulatory Affairs, Syngenta, High Point, NC

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