RNA interference (RNAi) is being developed and exploited to improve plants by modifying endogenous gene expression as well as to target pest and pathogen genes both within plants (i.e. host-induced gene silencing) and/or as topical applications (e.g. spray-induced gene silencing). RNAi is a natural mechanism which can be exploited to make a major contribution towards integrated pest management and sustainable agricultural strategies needed worldwide to secure current and future food production. RNAi plants are being assessed and regulated using existing regulatory frameworks for GMO. However, there is an urgent need to develop appropriate science-based risk assessment procedures for topical RNAi applications within existing plant protection products legislation.