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December 29, 2023

EPA Registers Novel Pesticide Technology for Potato Crops

Carla N. Hutton Meibao Zhuang, Ph.D.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on December 22, 2023, that it has registered biopesticide products containing the new active ingredient Ledprona for three years, “a timeframe that is consistent with EPA’s approach to other novel biopesticide products.” Ledprona is a new type of pesticide that relies on a natural mechanism, RNA interference (RNAi), used by plants and insects to protect against disease. As reported in our October 12, 2023, blog item, Ledprona is a sprayable double-stranded ribonucleic acid (dsRNA) product targeting the Colorado potato beetle (CPB), a major pest of potato crops grown in the United States. According to EPA, while the CPB is known to develop resistance rapidly to chemical-based insecticides, the sprayable dsRNA product “kills the pest by ‘silencing’ the CPB gene needed to produce the PSMB5 protein, whose role is essential to keeping the CPB alive, without resulting in a genetically modified organism.” EPA notes that this pesticide is “the first sprayable dsRNA pesticide in the world allowed to be used commercially and sprayed on plants.”


EPA has reviewed and approved multiple genetically modified crops containing RNAi technology. Ledprona is the first biopesticide active ingredient containing sprayable RNAi technology that reached this milestone, however. EPA states that it supports advancements in novel pesticide technology such as Ledprona “because this technology replaces more toxic chemical-based pesticides, provide[s] an additional tool for farmers to address challenges of climate change, and aids in resistance management.” According to EPA, novel pesticide technology can offer alternatives to chemical-based pesticides that may pose higher potential risks to human health or the environment or have reduced effectiveness because of resistance issues.