Genetically engineered natural insecticides? RNAi crops with built-in protection hit the market

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DvSnf7 dsRNA is an unusual insecticide. You don’t spray it on crops. Instead, you encode instructions for manufacturing it in the DNA of the crop itself. If a pesky western corn rootworm comes munching, the plant’s self-made DvSnf7 dsRNA disrupts a critical rootworm gene and kills the pest.

This last step is called RNA interference, or RNAi, and the Environmental Protection Agency … approved the first insecticide relying on it. Just a few years ago, RNAi was the hot, new biotechnology generating both hype and controversy. But its first approval as an insecticide has been surprisingly low-key. The EPA’s decision attracted little attention from the press or even from environmental groups that reliably come out against new genetically modified crops.

The first product DvSnf7 dsRNA will show up in is SmartStax Pro, a line of genetically modified corn seeds made in collaboration between two agricultural giants, Monsanto and Dow. … Monsanto expects corn seed with RNAi to be on the market by the end of this decade.

Western corn rootworm is just the beginning of Monsanto’s ambitions for RNAi. Robb Fraley, the company’s chief technology office, ticked off the other RNAi products in the pipeline: a soybean that makes oil containing omega-3 and an insecticide that kills mites harming honeybees.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: The EPA Quietly Approved Monsanto’s New Genetic-Engineering Technology

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