Updated: Oct 26
How do you feel about the world’s first RNAi-based pesticide spray being used on potato crops in the U.S.?
In May 2023, the EPA approved an experimental use permit (EUP) in ten states, including Idaho, for the RNA interference (RNAi) pesticide, Ledprona. This gene-silencing pesticide is being used on conventional potato crops to combat the invasive Colorado potato beetle (CPB) that is known to destroy potato, eggplant, and tomato crops. Since there were no reports of safety concerns on Ledprona in the last five months, the EPA is now proposing to register pesticide products containing Ledprona for a three-year timeframe. The public comment period was set to expire October 13th but it has been extended to October 30th following a request from the environmental group, Friends of Earth.
Ledprona is administered by spraying the potato crops while wearing full protective gear. The nanoparticles from the spray permeate the surroundings and that alone, could have monumental effects on the ecosystem. From parasites to predators to pollinators, the off-target silencing of genes in non-targeted organisms is a major cause for concern. The double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) is designed to match the nucleotide sequence of the CPB and interfere with vital biochemical/biological processes in the insect to lead to its death. This super pest has evolved resistance to over 50 different types of insecticides! Will the same happen when a dsRNA pesticide is sprayed on our crops and is it worth the unknown risks for consumers?
To send a public comment, go to http://www.regulations.gov/ and copy this identification number into the search bar. Tell the EPA what you think about RNAi-based pesticides on your food!