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Developing A Framework For Assessing The Risks Of In Planta Rnai On Non-Target Arthropods
X. Zhou, B. D. Siegfried
Department of Entomology
One of the biggest hurdles to developing RNAi as pest management tool is the lack of a formalized ecological risk assessment. We believe that an essential component of estimating risk of this technology will involve toxicity testing under a worse-case scenario of exposure that is similar to the testing currently used for transgenic plants that express Bt toxins and chemical pesticides.
The studies described in this proposal are designed to answer questions directly pertaining to the risk of RNAi to non-target arthropods that are at greatest risk of exposure because of a shared environment and common molecular targets as measured by DNA sequence. The early-tier testing methods described in this proposal are intended to measure specific risk endpoints under a worst case scenario and not meant to reflect real-world exposures. Our studies will enhance the likelihood of the identification of potential hazards involved with the RNAi maize.
The overall goals of this proposal are to adopt the current ecological risk assessment (ERA) framework developed for Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) crops and integrate it into the risk evaluation process of insect-resistant crops that employ RNA interference (RNAi) for insect control.
Specifically we propose to establish a standardized protocol to evaluate the potential hazards of RNAi crops to non-target arthropods, to test risk hypotheses at early-tier assessments. From this information we will develop credible risk evaluations for the scientific community and regulatory agencies to provide guidance for the future risk analyses at advanced tiers.