“We are creating a large network of expertise covering different aspects of the new RNAi technology, with a high capability to further improve the knowledge of this technology, explore all the applications and identify the most relevant risks and benefits at the socio-economical level,” says iPlanta Chair Professor Bruno Mezzetti from Universita Politecnica delle Marche, Italy. “Furthermore, it’s really important to develop a communication strategy that will increase public acceptance of RNAi products and products arising from other new breeding techniques.”
iPlanta and industry
iPlanta research is expected to have important implications to sustainable agricultural and biomaterials production systems, as well as on the quality and quantity of crop production. Professor Mezzetti is particularly excited about the possible impact of RNAi technology on the industrial sector: “We have already identified the major potential of RNAi technology, but the newest novelty is the possibility of using RNAi directly on the plant, e.g. by spraying or injection, for inducing disease resistance or even to control fruit ripening,” he says. “This application is being investigated by many research programmes, and in the future, may open a new industrial sector in which RNAi will be a molecular tool able to replace chemical pesticides.” Scientists from more than 30 countries have joined the iPlanta network, which is organised into five working groups covering: RNAi technology, application of RNAi technology in GM plants, biosafety, RNAi socio-economics, and communication and public acceptance.
“COST funding is fundamental to the creation of the network, the exchange of knowledge on RNAi technology, the development of strategies for identifying risk and benefits of the technology, and communication to the public,” explains Professor Mezzetti.
“Overall, we aim to create a network of research centres that will operate jointly (from the lab to the field) for these aims, promoting knowledge exchange, new joint research and new communication strategies,” he adds.
COST Action: www.cost.eu/COST_Actions/ca/CA15223
Project website: http://iplanta.univpm.it