The idea of vaccinating a plant sounds like something from a science-fiction book, but technology and science are extremely close with a double-stranded RNA molecule that can be sprayed directly on the plant to protect it from pests and diseases. Currently the focus is on edible plants such as cereal grains.
The vaccine triggers a mechanism known as RNA interference, and basically targets the pest or disease, not the plant being sprayed. RNA is also a common molecule in nature that degrades rapidly rather than build up in the environment.
The opportunity to use new technology to replace common pesticides via this RNA technology is nearly upon us. What type of regulations or safeguards do we need to have in place? Should set backs be set to prevent drift? How could this affect non-targeted plants? Are there long-term implications?
Rebecca Park | 517-679-5346
MFB: #6 Biotechnology discusses the benefits of biotechnology but does not specifically address RNA.
AFBF: #337 Biotechnology has language at lines 1.3 and 7.1 expressing support for new biotechnology opportunities, but not specific to RNA.
MI Farm News: New plant protection method on the horizon