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PROFESSIONAL SOCIETIES and Ecologically Based Pest Management: Proceedings of a Workshop 2 Vision for Pest Management ORIGINS OF THE WORKSHOP RALPH HARDY National Agricultural Biotechnology Council We are living in interesting times with interesting changes. Some countries are cutting back on antibiotic use in food animals, and pressure is developing in the United States to do the same. This is part of a growing trend that I see of moving from a chemical input approach to an ecosystem-based approach. The following are just a few more examples that are relevant to this movement toward ecosystem approaches. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) researchers recently introduced a “competitive exclusion product” called PREEMPT. In field tests, the researchers used this product to successfully reduce Salmonella bacteria from 7 percent in untreated chickens to 0 percent in the treated chickens. The Food and Drug Administration approved PREEMPT for use in the poultry industry in March 1998. PREEMPT is a microbial cocktail of nonpathogenic microbes that is sprayed on newly hatched chicks, giving them resistance to Salmonella. This new drug preempts the growth of Salmonella in the avian gut before the pathogenic forms have the opportunity to reduce growth efficiency and potentially contaminate the food product. This ecosystem-based process has been licensed and is being commercialized (Hays, 1998). Another process that is not yet commercialized, but I expect will be commercialized in the next year, is an approach to eliminate rodents from poultry farms that is more effective than currently used rodenticides. This approach involves adding an organic rodent feeding repellent to the poultry
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PROFESSIONAL SOCIETIES and Ecologically Based Pest Management: Proceedings of a Workshop feed, thereby reducing fecal contamination by rodents in the feed, around the poultry feeding areas, and in related operations. Another tool that is being developed for the poultry industry utilizes a proprietary cloacal plug to eliminate fecal contamination (the plug is inserted after the chickens have been killed). This technique will reduce microbial contamination of the poultry food products during processing. These three examples from the poultry industry serve to document the movement from primary and dominant use of “chemical-icides” in pest control to approaches that are more ecosystem based. ECOLOGICALLY BASED PEST MANAGEMENT The National Research Council (NRC) initiated a study in 1992 that was undertaken at the request of the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and Agricultural Research Service. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency funded the study. The NRC convened a committee composed of 14 members with environmental expertise from various disciplines, including entomology, plant pathology, weed science, and economics. The study addressed the following questions: Do we need new arthropod, weed, and pathogen control methods in crop and forest production systems? What can we realistically expect from investment in new technologies? How do we develop effective and profitable pest control systems that rely primarily on ecological processes of control? How can we oversee and commercialize biological control organisms and products? The committee was diverse and took considerable time to identify a consensus response to the charge. The defining question was a simple one and required committee members to describe their vision for pest management in 20–25 years. The response became unanimous within one-half hour and provided the title for the report—Ecologically Based Pest Management: New Solutions for a New Century. In its report, the committee stated that ecologically based pest management had to be safe to nontarget, beneficial organisms, as well as applicators, growers, and consumers. Clearly, ecologically based pest management (EBPM) has to be profitable if it is going to be implemented by producers. Finally, EBPM has to be durable in terms of its long-term outcome. Because the word “sustainable” is a term with so many different definitions, the committee chose to use the term “durability,” which is more appropriate for this area. Durability can refer to potential problems associated with evolution of resistance by overuse of a single management tactic. Basically, the change to ecologically based pest management will require a substantial change to a knowledge-based approach, and this knowledge has to build upon an understanding of the inherent strengths as well as the weaknesses of the managed ecosystem.
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PROFESSIONAL SOCIETIES and Ecologically Based Pest Management: Proceedings of a Workshop A primary objective for managing pests is to try to capture and reinforce what can be beneficial for the ecosystem. A secondary approach, if needed, is the addition of supplemental inputs that could include physical or cultural interventions. This would include a variety of biological approaches ranging from traditional plant breeding to genetic engineering and chemicals—provided that those chemicals are safe, profitable, and durable. A chemical can be included in EBPM if it can meet these three requirements and has low risks, for example, for nontarget organisms. These supplements or products should be developed and deployed to minimize disruption to the managed ecosystem, delay development of resistance, and be profitable to the producer. This NRC report should be viewed as a big picture, one that needs considerable definition to move toward implementation. Clearly, there is a need for a cross-cut of professional organizations and their involvement in order to successfully implement ecologically based pest management systems. Ecology must be incorporated, but so must more traditional pest management disciplines—entomology, plant pathology, and weed science—collectively utilizing a systems approach. In order to enhance our understanding of this systems approach, several experts were invited to this workshop to present the ecological aspects of their respective fields. For the second day of the meetings, the workshop participants were asked to come to the breakout sessions with an open mind, to speak, to listen, and, most importantly, to learn how we can expand and develop the ecosystem-based approach. The opportunity and the responsibility are there for us to initiate the development and implementation of ecosystem-based approaches in pest management. The professional societies can and should be the leaders in this endeavor. REFERENCES Hays, S.M. 1998. USDA researchers create new product that reduces salmonella in chickens . USDA, Agricultural Research Service press release [Online]. Available: http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/1998/980319.htm National Research Council. 1996. Ecologically Based Pest Management: New Solutions for a New Century . Washington, DC. National Academy Press.
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PROFESSIONAL SOCIETIES and Ecologically Based Pest Management: Proceedings of a Workshop VISION FOR ECOLOGICALLY BASED PEST MANAGEMENT NEAL VAN ALFEN University of California, Davis It is generally recognized that one can manage many pests using current knowledge of pest biology without needing to resort to pesticides if the crop is managed on a small scale, if there is flexibility in the crops to be planted, and if one is prepared for periodic crop failures. This is agriculture as we have known it for most of the history of humankind. It is much more difficult to raise crops on the scale needed to feed the world today without resorting to pesticides. One goal of most pest control scientists is to reduce our dependence upon pesticides, and we generally acknowledge a common set of strategies that are available to us to achieve this goal. The difficulty is that we have been unable to achieve this goal to our satisfaction. The 1996 NRC report on EBPM chronicles the successes that have been achieved in the past using the espoused principles. It also delves into why we have not been more successful in managing pests using these principles in large-scale agriculture. The vision that is represented in this report is not new. Integrated pest management (IPM) emerged in the aftermath of Rachel Carson' s 1962 book Silent Spring and amid serious concerns about the defeat of pesticides through the genetic plasticity of pests. From this origin, IPM adherents and IPM organizations have worked to reduce our dependence upon pesticides. Equally committed, but more poorly organized within the scientific community, are the proponents of biological control who have also been seeking to find alternatives to organic chemistry for pest management. Groups that support sustainable agriculture and organic farming are committed to a similar vision of pest management. Clearly the concepts and recommendations of the NRC report (1996) are not new nor would they have been possible without the toil of these groups of scientists and farmers during the past decades. They demonstrated the validity of the concepts. The NRC committee, however, recognized that there remain significant barriers to the widespread adoption of the vision of EBPM. Some of the existing barriers are institutional and readily resolvable, whereas others reflect our lack of knowledge of the functioning of agroecosystems. If IPM, biological control, organic farming, and sustainable agriculture strategies include the essence of EBPM, is it fruitful to complicate the landscape with a new acronym? In reflecting on the history of the development of the pest sciences, the NRC committee felt that a new articulation of our vision of pest management was needed and that, in particular, we need to move beyond current organizational/institutional barriers. New knowledge and approaches to science also create opportunities to move beyond our traditional ways of approaching pest management. This combination of new opportunities for
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PROFESSIONAL SOCIETIES and Ecologically Based Pest Management: Proceedings of a Workshop addressing deficiencies in our knowledge and the need to remove organizational/cultural barriers provides the impetus for articulation of a new vision and the creation of a new professional culture of interdisciplinary pest management. LIMITATIONS The implementation of pest management practices based upon ecological principles is limited by our lack of complete knowledge concerning the functioning of ecosystems and landscapes. This specific deficiency in our knowledge is but one of the many areas when we are limited in being able to effectively manage pests. The NRC report outlines in detail many of the areas that would benefit from additional research. Through various state and federal programs an effective infrastructure exists in the United States for the delivery of information to growers, but we often lack sufficient new information to provide growers through this system. With the exception of transgenic crops, most of the advances in pest management in recent decades have been incremental improvements of previous discoveries. Some recent developments offer hope that greater understanding of how ecosystems function will be forthcoming. We currently know little about the microflora of ecosystems, knowing the names of only about 1 percent of them and the roles of even fewer. New detection and genotyping methods provide tools to probe these unknowns. Likewise, development of methods to handle and see patterns in complex data sets provides another window through which to explore how ecosystems function. The lack of significant new developments in strategies for EBPM is in part due to the lack of funding for basic research in this area. Much of the funding for IPM has been directed toward development and maintenance of an extension delivery system. The USDA's National Research Initiative Competitive Grants Program and the regional IPM grants programs also provide some funding, but relative to the needs the amounts available are small. Compounding the problem is the generally low level of funding available for all ecological research. The National Science Foundation is the primary source of funds for ecological research in the United States, with most of the funding from this agency directed toward the study of natural ecosystems. There is a dearth of funding to understand managed ecosystems, such as those of agriculture and much of our forestland. One of the challenges that we face is to articulate the need for funding to study agroecosystems. We especially need to attract ecologists to study agroecosystems. Much more basic science must be conducted on how these systems function. Attracting appropriate scientists to address these problems is as much a cultural issue as it is a funding one. Natural ecosystems hold much more interest for these scientists than do pest management issues in agroecosystems. Just as the basic molecular sciences, however, have fueled agricultural biotechnology, our future progress in understanding how agroecosystems function will be
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PROFESSIONAL SOCIETIES and Ecologically Based Pest Management: Proceedings of a Workshop dependent upon ecologists who find the study of agroecosystems interesting and rewarding. INFORMATION NEEDS What new information is needed? In addition to our need for knowledge of how agroecosystems function, the committee felt that we need to identify and conserve critical bio-resources that have potential for use in pest management. We also need to have a better understanding of the mechanisms that regulate population levels of pests in ecosystems. We need additional research to develop new diagnostic tools. In other words, we need to be able to monitor events in the ecosystem as they happen, particularly to better understand the role of those organisms that cannot be easily seen or distinguished. We must develop broadbased crop management strategies that are not discipline specific. We must develop implementation and evaluation strategies, such as how to recognize and measure success. Finally, there has to be an understanding of the socioeconomic issues that influence the adoption of EBPM practices. WORKSHOP GOALS The goal of this workshop is to find common ground among various groups and professional societies, that will lead to joint support for our common vision of pest management, rather than to address the research needs necessary for the success of EBPM. Additional research funding, which we all agree is necessary for us to reduce our dependence on pesticides, will only come from coordinated educational programs directed toward the public and policy makers. We will be most successful if the various groups with this common vision can work together (i.e., to develop transdisciplinary research and educational approaches). As we plan for the future, we need to consider our history and adapt in order to assure that we do not repeat past errors. HISTORICAL CHALLENGES Historically, the pest sciences were subdivided into different groups, departments, or colleges by academic institutions and governmental agencies. Within these institutions they became isolated from each other, and often became competitors. Although there are many exceptions that can be identified, the general isolation of the pest science disciplines from each other has created sufficient difficulties that we now must seek new institutional approaches for cooperation. The recent trend in agricultural colleges of land-grant institutions has been to seek new ways to organize disciplines to reduce the types of isolation and competition that have created barriers in the past. This trend will certainly continue until we are able to assure the success of interdisciplinary programs.
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PROFESSIONAL SOCIETIES and Ecologically Based Pest Management: Proceedings of a Workshop Pest scientists have a common vision of the development of safe, profitable, durable pest management systems, but there have been differing views on how to implement this vision. The administration of IPM programs by the federal government has had a particularly contentious history in some states. In the past, the majority of IPM programs have been almost exclusively insect management programs with administrative barriers that have served to limit the participation of other disciplines. The recent progress that has been made in most states and institutions to make IPM programs genuinely interdisciplinary bodes well for our future ability as pest scientists to work together. Future progress of the pest science disciplines will be based upon our ability to work together to address all pest problems at a systems level. Nature does not recognize the administrative divisions that we have erected. Our disciplinary isolation has manifested itself through the evolution of unique nomenclatures in each discipline that describe the same processes. Entomologists and plant pathologists, for example, have even developed different concepts about what constitutes biological control. Within disciplines such problems of varying definitions often arise, but they need to be addressed between disciplines for effective communication to develop. As we learn to address problems of pest management on a systems level, we will need to reconcile the different languages that we have developed. BRIDGING THE GAP Professional societies offer hope to serve as bridges to bring disciplines together. The nature of membership in professional societies is not competitive with each other. Unlike institutional departments that generally allow only a single affiliation, individuals belong to multiple professional societies. Members join as an expression of their interest in the discipline. Professional societies are seeking ways to jointly sponsor issues of common interest and to sponsor joint meetings that allow their members to meet with those of similar disciplines. Joint meetings present challenges to find common ground in our different cultures. Bringing together groups that have evolved different cultures is a challenge, but if interdisciplinary efforts such as EBPM are to succeed we must bring these cultures into closer communication through more frequent interactions. Where do we start to bridge the gap and build on common ground? We have developed a common vision of the future of pest management. We all agree that this vision must include addressing pest problems as a managed ecosystem issue rather than on an individual pest basis. Having defined a common vision makes it now possible for us to address how to achieve this vision. To achieve this vision we must not only engage all pest science disciplines but also reach out to all relevant disciplines.
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PROFESSIONAL SOCIETIES and Ecologically Based Pest Management: Proceedings of a Workshop SETTING THE CONTEXT EBPM promotes the economic and environmental viability of agroecosystems by using knowledge of interactions between crops, pests, and naturally occurring biocontrol organisms to modify cropping systems in ways that reduce damage associated with pests. Coexisting crops, herbivores, predators, pathogens, weeds, and other organisms interact with one another and respond to their environment. This web of interrelated interactions also can confer stability on the system; while a pest population increases and decreases, it is subject to the checks and balances imposed by populations of the other organisms. Thus, future pest management strategies will be built upon an improved understanding of natural biological interactions that suppress pest populations, as well as identification of where the use of supplemental inputs and cultural practices disturb the managed ecosystem and how pest populations develop and adapt to these disturbances. Manipulation of these natural processes into practical and profitable strategies is key to development of ecologically based pest management. The vision is very similar to the one that has long been articulated for IPM. Achieving the vision of ecological or integrated pest management will depend upon translation of ecological knowledge into practical and profitable strategies for managing pests in farming systems. The chapters that follow present author's perspectives on the sociological, economic, and ecological context for ecological pest management.
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