Insects compete directly with people for the energy and nutrients contained in plant matter, so it’s crucial for future food security to develop safe, effective and inexpensive means to control insect pests on crop plants. Zhang et al. review progress in using plant-mediated RNA interference (RNAi) for insect control. Challenges include differential sensitivities across insect species due to different feeding practices or stability of the double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) in the insect gut, and problems with the abundance and stability of the dsRNA needed for RNAi. One promising avenue to ameliorate several of these problems is to engineer plants to produce the dsRNAs in the plastid, as described by the authors. Trends Biotechnol. 10.1016/j.tibtech.2017.04.009
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