Recommendation 3. Investments in research by the public sector should emphasize those areas of pest management that are not now being (and historically have never been) undertaken by private industry.

Federal funding of pesticide research has historically had a very narrow base, as seen with the Agricultural Research Service and National Science Foundation (NSF) funding (Chapter 1).

To diversify the range of tools available for managing pests, a diversity of approaches would be beneficial. The chief desirable policy changes to diversify the research enterprise are highlighted below.

Recommendation 3a. Investment in pest management research at USDA should be increased and restructured in particular to steadily increase the proportion and absolute amounts directed toward competitive grants in the National Research Initiative Competitive Grants Program (NRI), as opposed to earmarked projects.

A greater emphasis on research—not only on chemicals themselves, but also on the ecological consequences of pesticide use—can increase the probability that new products will be readily integrated into ecologically based pest-management systems. Pest biology and management studies represented some 15–17% of the funding allocations under NRI in 1998 and 1999; however, only 15 studies of biologically based pest management were funded in each of the last 2 years (USDA 2000).

Recommendation 3b. Total investment in pest management and the rate of new discoveries should be increased by broadening missions at funding agencies other than USDA—specifically, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the NSF, EPA, Department of Energy (DOE), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to address biological, biochemical, and chemical research that can be applied to ecologically based pest management.

The perspective on research and development and new products should be global and should take into account the collaboration and partnerships in research.

Investment in basic research applicable to ecologically based pest management is consistent with the missions of the funding agencies. Such initiatives could include

  • Obtaining the ecological and evolutionary biological information necessary for design and implementation of specific pest-management systems.

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