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.


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.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement