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June 30th, 2017 / New Scientist, UK

For the first time, a crop that produces an RNAi-based pesticide has got the green light.

The US Environmental Protection Agency has approved a genetically modified corn known as SmartStax Pro. In addition to producing two Bt toxins to kill any western corn rootworm larvae that try to eat it, the plant produces a piece of RNA that shuts down a specific gene inside the larvae, killing them.

On paper at least, such RNA interference (RNAi) is the perfect pesticide: it kills the target species while leaving others untouched. Read more