RNA Interference in Agriculture: Methods, Applications, and Governance Academic Article uri icon


  • 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.

published proceedings

  • Current Applied Science and Technology

author list (cited authors)

  • Vlez Arango, A. M., Darlington, M., Jurat-Fuentes, J. L., Kogel, K., Rathore, K., Smagghe, G., & Whyard, S.

complete list of authors

  • Vélez Arango, Ana María||Darlington, Molly||Jurat-Fuentes, Juan Luis||Kogel, Karl-Heinz||Rathore, Keerti||Smagghe, Guy||Whyard, Steve

publication date

  • January 2024