Gene silencing could be the future of pesticides

What if a can of Raid sprayed RNA instead of poison? Well, researchers at the University of Florida have developed a “genetic pesticide” for termites that uses RNA interference to specifically silence genes specific to the target termite species.

With rising concerns about side effects of the often neurotoxin-like chemicals used in conventional pesticides (such as recent concerns about potential links to Alzheimer’s), researchers have been under increased pressure to develop alternative pest-control methods. The UF development is the first demonstration of such a free-standing pesticide–which many herald as the future of the industry because of researchers’ claims that the gene-silencing can be specifically formulated for the target pest, without affecting other species.

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