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EU Food Safety Agency to Hold Meeting on Agricultural RNAi Risks

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NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The European Food Safety Authority, a European Union agency, has scheduled for next week a meeting of international researchers to explore the possible risks associated with RNAi-expressing and -modified plants.

The event, which is being held in Brussels, comes just months after the US Environmental Protection Agency held its own meeting of agency and external experts to review the impact of plants that express dsRNA, particularly for pesticidal applications, on humans and the environment.

"It is possible that the RNAi technique could lead to unintended effects on the [genetically modified] plant itself or on other species," Elisabeth Waigmann, head of the EFSA's genetically modified organism unit, said in a statement. "By sharing our knowledge on RNAi, we want to explore how to predict if such effects are likely to occur and what they might be. This could then provide the basis for refining the current GM risk-assessment methodology to detect unintended effects."

The EFSA said it intends to release a report on the meeting's outcome later in the year.