Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.
Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.
OCR for page 1
The Future Role of Pesticides in US Agriculture Executive Summary The National Research Council charged the committee on the Future Role of Pesticides in US Agriculture with providing insight and information on the future of chemical-pesticide use in US agriculture. The committee was given four specific charges: Identify circumstances under which chemical pesticides may be required in future pest management. Determine what types of chemical products are most appropriate tools for ecologically based pest management. Explore the most promising opportunities to increase benefits, and reduce health and environmental risks of pesticide use. Recommend an appropriate role for the public sector in research, product development, product testing and registration, implementation of pesticide use strategies, and public education about pesticides. The scope of the study was to encompass pesticide use in production systems—processing, storage, and transportation of field crops, fruits, vegetables, ornamentals, fiber (including forest products), livestock, and the products of aquaculture. Pests to be considered included weeds, pathogens, and vertebrate and invertebrate organisms that must normally be managed to protect crops, livestock, and urban ecosystems. All aspects of pesticide research were to be considered—identification of pest behavior in the ecosystem, pest biochemistry and physiology, resistance management, impacts of pesticides on economic systems, and so on.
OCR for page 2
The Future Role of Pesticides in US Agriculture Because its task was so broad and it had a relatively short period for its study, the committee met five times over 11 months in 1998 and held three workshops to seek input from the public. A critical early challenge was to refine the charge. The committee defined the future of agriculture to be the next 10–20 years. Beyond 20 years, predicting technological innovations and their effects is extremely difficult. The committee also believed that the term pesticide required a precise definition for the purpose of this report. The legal definition set forth in the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act is in part inconsistent with biological definitions of pesticides. The definition has social aspects as well; public perceptions inevitably color policy discussions and decisions. Accordingly, in this report the committee took a broad view of the concept of pesticide to include both the strict legal definition and microbial pesticides, plant metabolites, and agents used in veterinary medicine to control insect and nematode pests. Recent innovations in pest-control technologies (notably, genetic engineering) might necessitate a reevaluation of the legal definition in the near future. The committee also embraced the phrase ecologically based pest management (EBPM) as representing a pest-management approach that depends primarily on knowledge of pest biology and secondarily on physical, chemical, and biological supplements. The foundation for this management approach is a working knowledge of the managed ecosystem, including natural processes that suppress pest populations. Practitioners of EBPM augment the natural processes with such tools as biological control organisms and products, resistant plants, and narrow-spectrum pesticides. With respect to the first charge—to identify circumstances in which chemical pesticides will continue to be needed in pest management—the committee decided early during its deliberations that an assessment of the full range of agricultural pests and of the composition and deployment of chemical pesticides to control pests in various environments would be an impossible task because of the large volume of data and the number of analyses required to generate a credible evaluation. The committee reviewed the literature and received expert testimony on the potential effects of pesticides on productivity, environment, and human health and on the potential to reduce overall risks by improving approaches that use chemicals under diverse conditions—soils, crops, climates, and farm-management practices. The committee concluded that uses and potential effects of chemical pesticides and alternatives to improve pest management vary considerably among ecosystems. That conclusion was reinforced by expanded solicitation of expert opinion. Overall, the committee concluded that chemical pesticides will continue to play a role in pest management for the foreseeable future, in part because environmental compatibility of products is increasing—particularly with
OCR for page 3
The Future Role of Pesticides in US Agriculture the growing proportion of reduced-risk pesticides being registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and in part because competitive alternatives are not universally available. In many situations, the benefits of pesticide use are high relative to risks or there are no practical alternatives. With respect to the second charge—to determine the types of chemical products that are most appropriate for ecologically based pest management—the committee concluded that societal concerns, scientific advances, and regulatory pressures have driven and continue to drive some of the more hazardous products from the marketplace. Synthetic organic insecticides traditionally associated with broad nontarget effects, with potentially hazardous residues, and with exposure risks to applicators are expected to occupy a decreasing market share. This trend has been promoted by regulatory changes that restricting use of older chemicals and by technological changes that lead to competitive alternative products. Many products registered in the last decade have safer properties and smaller environmental impacts than older synthetic organic pesticides. The novel chemical products that will dominate in the near future will most likely have a very different genesis from traditional synthetic organic insecticides; the number and diversity of biological sources will increase, and products that originate in chemistry laboratories will be designed with particular target sites or modes of action in mind. Innovations in pesticide-delivery systems (notably, in plants) promise to reduce adverse environmental impacts even further but are not expected to eliminate them. The committee recognized, however, that the new products share many of the problems that have been presented by traditional synthetic organic insecticides. For example, there is no evidence that any of the new chemical and biotechnology products are completely free of the classic problems of resistance acquisition, nontarget effects, and residue exposure. Genetically engineered organisms that reduce pest pressure constitute a “new generation” of pest-management tools, but genetically engineered crops that express a control chemical can exert strong selection for resistance in pests. Similarly, genetically engineered crops that depend upon the concomitant use of a single chemical pesticide with a mode of action similar to that of the transgenically expressed trait could increase the development of pest resistance to the chemical. Moreover, adverse environmental impacts (e.g., against nontarget organisms) are still considerations, albeit at a scale smaller than those presented by traditional chemical products. Expression of control chemicals in plant parts to be consumed by humans or livestock raise concerns about health impacts. Thus, the use of transgenic crops will probably maintain, or even increase, the need for effective resistance-management programs, novel
OCR for page 4
The Future Role of Pesticides in US Agriculture genes that protect crops, chemicals with new modes of action and nonpesticide management techniques. There remains a need for new chemicals that are compatible with ecologically based pest management and applicator and worker safety. Recommendation 1. There is no justification for completely abandoning chemicals per se as components in the defensive toolbox used for managing pests. The committee recommends maintaining a diversity of tools for maximizing flexibility, precision, and stability of pest management. No single pest-management strategy will work reliably in all managed or natural ecosystems. Indeed, such “magic bullet” fantasies have historically contributed to overuse and resistance problems. Chemical pesticides should not automatically be given the highest priority. Whether they should be considered tools of last resort depends on features of the particular system in which pest management is being used (for example, agriculture, forest, or household) and on the degree of exposure of humans and nontarget organisms. Pesticides should be evaluated in conjunction with all other alternative management practices not only with respect to efficacy, cost, and ease of implementation but also with respect to long-term sustainability, environmental impact, and health. With regard to the second charge—identifying what types of chemical products will be required in specific managed ecosystems or localities in which particular chemical products will continue to be required—the committee decided that there is too much variability within and among systems to provide coherent and consistent recommendations. Differences among managed and natural ecosystems in biological factors, such as pest pressure, and in economic factors, such as profitability, make generalizations about particular products of little value. Indeed, generalizing across systems as to the necessity of pesticides is responsible in part for many concerns and conflicts of opinion. As for the third charge—to identify the most promising opportunities for increasing benefits of and reducing risks posed by pesticide use—the committee identified these: Make research investments and policy changes that emphasize development of pesticides and application technologies that pose reduced health risks and are compatible with ecologically based pest management. Promote scientific and social initiatives to make development and use of alternatives to pesticides more competitive in a wide variety of managed and natural ecosystems. Increase the ability and motivation of agricultural workers to lessen
OCR for page 5
The Future Role of Pesticides in US Agriculture their exposure to potentially harmful chemicals and refine worker-protection regulations and enforce compliance with them. Reduce adverse off-target effects by judicious choice of chemical agents, implementation of precision application technology and determination of economic- and environmental-impact thresholds for pesticide use in more agricultural systems. Reduce the overall environmental impact of the agricultural enterprise. The most promising opportunity for increasing benefits and reducing risks is to invest time, money, and effort into developing a diverse toolbox of pest-management strategies that include safe products and practices that integrate chemical approaches into an overall, ecologically based framework to optimize sustainable production, environmental quality, and human health. With respect to the fourth charge—recommending an appropriate role for the public sector in research, product development, product testing and registration, implementation of pesticide use strategies, and public education about pesticides —the committee agreed that specific policy actions in research, education, regulation, and management can enhance the likelihood that the opportunity for public-sector contributions is not missed. Research topics that should be targeted by the public sector include Minor-use crops. Pest biology and ecology. Integration of several pest-management tools in managed and natural ecosystems. Targeted applications of pesticides. Risk perception and risk assessment of pesticides and their alternatives. Economic and social impacts of pesticide use. PUBLIC-SECTOR ROLE IN RESEARCH Pesticides provide economic benefits to producers and by extension to consumers. One of the major benefits of pesticides is protection of crop quality and yield. Pesticides can under some circumstances prevent large crop losses, thus raising agricultural output and farm income. Many farmers are responsible land stewards and are concerned with potential environmental impacts of pesticides, but it is unrealistic to expect most farmers to adopt alternative pest-management strategies that would decrease their profits without the use of some policy incentives and disincentives.
OCR for page 6
The Future Role of Pesticides in US Agriculture Organic foods and ecolabeling markets are creating new opportunities for growers who are willing to reduce or exclude synthetic chemicals in their production practices. Environmentally friendly products appeal to consumers, too; organic food sales are growing at a rate of 20%/year in the United States. Yet policy analysts report that only 0.1% of agricultural research is devoted to organic farming practices. Availability of alternative pest-management tools will be critical to meet the production standards and stiff competition expected in these niche markets. Globalization policies and practices are affecting pest management on and off the farm. Reduction in trade barriers increases competitive pressures and provides extra incentives for United States farmers to reduce costs and increase crop yields. It is likely that trade will increase the spread of invasive pest species and pose risks to domestic plants and animals, as well as populations of native flora and fauna. To meet those emerging global pest problems, researchers will need to develop effective, environmentally compatible, and efficient pest controls as a complement to a suite of prevention strategies. Recommendation 2. A concerted effort in research and policy should be made to increase the competitiveness of alternatives to chemical pesticides; this effort is a necessary prerequisite for diversifying the pest-management “toolbox” in an era of rapid economic and ecological change. Nontarget effects of exposure of humans and the environment to pesticide residues are a continuing concern. The application of pesticides results in indirect effects on ecosystems by reducing local biodiversity and by changing the flow of energy and nutrients through the system as the biomass attributable to individual species is altered. Pesticide policies should be based on sound science; where there is uncertainty, expert judgment will become more important in decision-making. Across-the-board pesticide policies that do not account for biological and ecological factors and for socioeconomic influences are likely to be less effective. Pesticide resistance now is universal across taxa. Pests will adapt to counter any control strategy that results in the death or reduced fitness of a substantial portion of their population. Cultural and biological controls are not immune to evolution of resistance. Pesticide resistance is conspicuous because of the intensity of selection by high-efficacy chemicals. By spreading the burden of crop protection over multiple tactics, rather than relying on a single tool, farmers will face less risk of crop loss and lower rates of pest adaptation to control measures. Because pests will continue to evolve in response to pest controls, research needs to support development of pest-management tools that reduce selection pressure,
OCR for page 7
The Future Role of Pesticides in US Agriculture delay selection for resistance, and thus increase the life of chemical and other products. Pests will continue to thrive and a strong science and technological base will be needed to support management decisions. We need to continue to use the best science to resolve these questions. Policy makers need to use the best science in their decision making. As new technologies develop, theoretical frameworks for resolving these questions continue to be developed. 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. 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. 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. 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.
OCR for page 8
The Future Role of Pesticides in US Agriculture Identifying ways to enhance the competitiveness of alternatives or adjuncts by investing in studies of cultural and biological control. Elucidating fundamental pest biochemistry, physiology, ecology, genomics, and genetics to generate information that can lead to novel pest-control approaches. Examining residue management, environmental fate (biological, physical, and chemical), and application technology to monitor and reduce environmental damage and adverse health effects of both pesticides and pesticide alternatives. The lack of basic information on pest population spatial and temporal dynamics is a major impediment to implementation of ecologically based pest management. NSF and EPA could make an important contribution by funding research associated with understanding of pest-population and community dynamics. This type of research is funded by these agencies, but it focuses mostly on natural, as opposed to managed, ecosystems. In addition, all agencies could improve the basic understanding of pests and their impacts by funding longer-term projects that would adequately capture the variability in pest dynamics, including pesticide-resistance evolution, under alternative management systems. Recommendation 3c. On-farm studies, in addition to laboratory and test-plot studies, are a necessary component of the research enterprise. Investment in implementation research, which helps to resolve the practical difficulties that hinder progression from basic findings to operational utility, is needed. The idiosyncratic nature of individual agroecosystems limits the utility of both laboratory and test-plot studies in predicting the efficacy of pest-management strategies. An increased emphasis on large-scale and long-term on-farm studies through the use of the global positioning system (GPS) and global information system (GIS) technologies could contribute substantially to diversifying management tools and approaches. Such research programs should remove the gap between “basic” and “demonstration” research for all managed and natural ecosystems. USDA needs to fund applied research because there are limits to models that serve basic science as well. Such models advance fundamental knowledge, but often the major economic problems involve organisms that are hardly ideal from a fundamental scientific viewpoint. These problems can be best addressed by research on the organisms in question. The information generated by applied on-farm research is crucial to extension scientists, crop consultants, and producers. Recommendation 3d. Basic research on public perceptions and on risk assessment and analysis would be useful in promoting wide
OCR for page 9
The Future Role of Pesticides in US Agriculture spread acceptance and adoption of ecologically based management approaches. The body of literature evaluating public responses to agrochemicals in particular and pest management in general is not extensive. Surveys that have been done indicate that communication with the public about pesticides and their alternatives has been ineffectual. Media coverage of integrated pest management in widely circulated urban newspapers is sketchy and tends to focus on urban issues, thus providing little useful information to readers relevant to integrated pest management in agricultural settings. Although there have been substantial advances in research on risk perception in recent years, risk communication is a relatively new discipline. Research priorities include elucidating impacts of increasing benefit perceptions in risk communication, developing empirical methods for more accurate characterization of public perceptions, identifying reasons for differing qualitative and quantitative perceptions about pesticide technology and agrobiotechnology, and determining whether risk communication can reduce the gap that exists between public perceptions and scientific risk assessments. PUBLIC-SECTOR ROLE IN IMPLEMENTATION The public sector consists of various layers of government (local, state, federal, and international). In theory, each level of government addresses problems that affect its constituency. The justifications of government intervention in the management of pest control include the need to address the externality problems associated with the human and environmental health effects of pesticides and the information uncertainties regarding pesticides and their impacts. The performance and value of pest-control technologies depend on their specific properties and the manner of their application. The regulatory process has been designed to screen out the riskier materials. However, few incentives exist for efficient and environmentally sound pest-control management strategies. Introduction of incentives that would reduce the reliance on riskier pest-control strategies and encourage the use of environmentally friendly strategies is likely to lead to increased efficiency in pesticide use. Worker-safety concerns have emerged as a major problem associated with pesticide use. There have been some important improvements, but the search for more-efficient policies should continue. Development of these policies might entail investment in research to improve monitoring on the farm to allow more precise responses to changes in environmental conditions. Sometimes objections to pesticides are an issue of subjective prefer-
OCR for page 10
The Future Role of Pesticides in US Agriculture ence even when scientific evidence cannot support the objections. In this case, a government role in banning a pesticide might not be appropriate; an appropriate role might be to establish a legal framework that enables organic and pesticide-free markets to emerge and prosper so that consumers can be given an informed choice between lines of products that vary with pest management. Although agricultural biotechnology is more successful now than it was 2-5 years ago, raising money for agricultural ventures is still difficult for various reasons. First and most important, few investors have expertise in agricultural biotechnology. Second, although investors who exited early from their investments in 1980s agricultural-biotechnology companies made good returns, there are no blockbuster successes among the agricultural biotechnology success stories. Third, agricultural biotechnology must compete with telecommunication, software, Internet, and health-care biotechnology for venture capital. Fourth, few new agricultural-biotechnology companies have continued to generate investor interest (there is no “critical mass”). For United States agriculture to stay in the forefront with safer, environmentally friendly pest-management tools, there needs to be a continuing cycle of innovative new companies that research risky cutting-edge technologies. Recommendation 4. Government policies should be adapted to foster innovation and reward risk reduction in private industry and agriculture. The public sector has a unique role to play in supporting research on minor use cropping systems, where the inadequate availability of appropriate chemicals and the lack of environmentally and economically acceptable alternatives to synthetic chemicals contribute disproportionately to concerns about chemical impacts. The public sector can foster innovation in product development and pest-management practices by continuing to reduce barriers to investment by the private sector and by increasing implementation of regulatory processes that encourage product and practice development. This points to several recommendations relevant to innovation and risk reduction: Recommendation 4a. The Department of Commerce Advanced Technology Program should be encouraged to fund high-risk R&D for IPM, EBPM and alternatives that have commercial potential for early stage companies. The Advanced Technology Program (ATP) funded by the Department of Commerce awards grants that average $1–5 million, making it a valuable source for an early stage company. Typically ATP awards com
OCR for page 11
The Future Role of Pesticides in US Agriculture panies grants for risky, cutting edge R&D that has commercial potential. New tools for ecologically based pest management could get a boost if new companies could successfully compete for ATP funding for developing new IPM tools and alternatives. Recommendation 4b. Incentives should be increased for private companies to develop products and pest-management practices in crops with small acreages, including access to compete for Interregional Research Project 4 (IR4) funds used to obtain product registrations for minor-use crops. The Interregional Research Project 4 (IR4) program exists to assist in getting products registered on minor crops. IR4 awards grants to university researchers for biopesticide research. It has a long history of success in getting registrations for products for minor crops when there are no incentives for large companies to do so. We expect over the next few years to see as much success with biopesticides as IR4 has had with chemicals. Private companies are not allowed to obtain grants, but they are most capable of moving new products to market. The IR4 program should broaden its scope and allow private companies to obtain grants. IR4 should also better measure the outcomes (such as impact on farmers) of its current biopesticide grant program for academic researchers. Recommendation 4c. Redundancy in registration requirements should be reduced to expedite adoption of safer alternative products (such as biopesticides and reduced-risk conventional pesticides) Incentives can also be put into place to foster the development of products and pest-management practices in minor-use crops. Currently, the EPA's Biopesticide and Pollution Prevention Division (BPPD) has responsibility for registering new microbial and biochemical pesticides under subdivision M of the FIFRA. It takes 12-24 months to complete a biopesticide registration in BPPD. If that time could be reduced to less than 12 months for minor crops without compromising human and environmental-safety screening for minor-use crops, there would be an even greater favorable financial impact on small companies, and farmers would benefit by having earlier access to products. Also EPA's BPPD and California's Department of Pesticide Regulation conduct duplicative reviews and could increase the sharing of the review work. Recommendation 4d. Evaluation of the effectiveness of biocontrol agents should involve consideration of long-term impacts rather than only short-term yield, as is typically done for conventional practices.
OCR for page 12
The Future Role of Pesticides in US Agriculture Many biocontrol agents are not considered acceptable by growers, because they are evaluated for their immediate impact on pests (that is, they are expected to perform like pesticides). Some biocontrol pathogens used against weeds might cause as little as a 10% reduction in fecundity, which might not be a visible result but has a major long-term effect causing population decline. Low-efficacy biocontrol agents alone might not be acceptable for pest management but, in combination with other low-efficacy tactics, they could be preferable because they avoid the selection for resistance for that is associated with high-efficacy tactics. Recommendation 4e. At the farm level, incentives for adopting efficient and environmentally sound integrated pest-management and ecologically based pest-management systems can come from Expanding crop insurance for adoption of integrated pest-management and ecologically based pest-management systems practices. Implementing taxes and fees on environmentally higher-risk practices. Setting up tradable permit systems to reduce overall pollution emissions. Ensuring availability of funds in support of resource conservation (such as the Conservation Reserve Program). Conditioning entitlement to government payment on environmental stewardship. Assessing and more stringently enforcing regulations designed to protect worker health and safety. Innovative crop-insurance policies can be developed to promote the adoption of pesticide alternatives and to increase their economic competitiveness. USDA is developing and piloting some innovative crop-insurance programs to increase incentives to farmers to use alternative products and IPM systems that reduce the number of pesticide sprays. Another potential approach includes US Senator Richard Lugar 's Farmers' Risk Management Act of 1999 (S. 1666), which would change the way crop insurance has traditionally been used to a risk-management approach that would involve landowners in helping them to financial viability. The Act, if it passes, would provide eligibility for crop insurance if IPM or crop advisers are used. Recommendation 4f. Funds should be assigned to assess compliance with Worker Protection Standards and to improve worker health and safety in specialty crops. Worker safety in specialty crops is a serious concern. There are two interacting problems: a more intensive interface between worker and crop
OCR for page 13
The Future Role of Pesticides in US Agriculture and inadequate effort in developing safer products and practices. Those problems are exacerbated by the collective importance of such crops in diversifying and enriching the United States diet. Funds should be assigned to study worker health and safety in specialty crops and to assess compliance with WPS. Without more detailed objective information on compliance, there is a reasonable doubt that the 1992 WPS is accomplishing its goal. Conducting an objective study of compliance with WPS will be difficult but important. It is imperative that the organization and individuals conducting such a study be unbiased and have no conflict of interest. Farm workers typically do not know when or what pesticides have been applied to fields, so they must rely on their employers to protect them from hazardous exposure. Because some employers might not follow WPS regulations, funds should be assigned to develop pesticide formulations that contain specific odors or dyes that would provide farm workers with direct information on the presence of hazardous pesticide residues. PUBLIC-SECTOR ROLE IN EDUCATION It is clear from the committee's study that the general public has a critical function in determining the future role of pesticides in US agriculture. Consumer interest in food and other goods perceived as safe and healthy fuels the rapid growth of the organic-food market; at the same time, consumer use of pesticides in the home and on the lawn continues to grow. Many of the paradoxical decisions made by the voting and consuming public arise from a relatively poor grasp of the science behind crop protection. The public sector has a responsibility to provide education and information. Because knowledge also has public-good properties, a major responsibility of the public sector is to provide basic knowledge and information for decision-makers, in both the public and private sectors Education in scientific and technical fields is designed to meet anticipated demands in the private and public sectors. As long as there is a demand for pesticide-based solutions to pest-control problems, the education system has to train people to work in this field and to provide independent pesticide expertise in the public sector. Because we agree that pest-control choices have to be determined in the context of a perspective that incorporates biophysical, ecological, and economic considerations, education should emphasis basic principles and knowledge that will lead to informed decisions. The broad set of considerations associated with pest-control decisions requires more interdisciplinary education in land-grant universities. People trained in life sciences and agriculture should also have a strong
OCR for page 14
The Future Role of Pesticides in US Agriculture background in decision theory, risk evaluation, ethics, and economics to be able to handle pest-control problems in the commercial world. Many of the decisions associated with pest control are subject to public choice and public debate. To obtain rational and efficient outcomes, it is essential that scientists be able to communicate with the public in a clear and nontechnical manner about the tradeoffs associated with alternative pest-control issues. All citizens should be familiar with the basic principles of applied biology and risk evaluation, which can be provided as part of basic education. The general public, including children from kindergarten to 12th grade, should be educated about basic principles of environmental risk and of pest and disease control. Recommendation 5. The public sector must act on its responsibility to provide quality education to ensure well-informed decision-making in both the private and public sectors. This effort encompasses efforts in the agricultural sector, in the academic sector, and in the public sector at large. Recommendation 5a. In the agricultural sector, a transition should be made toward principle-based (as opposed to product-based) decision-making. The transition should be encouraged throughout the continuum from basic to implementation research in universities, in extension, in the USDA Agricultural Research Service, and among producers. Formulaic approaches to pest problems that are aimed at yield maximization rather than at sustainability approaches (product-based decision-making) have contributed to many of the problems plaguing agriculture. A sound grasp of fundamental principles should provide decision-makers with the flexibility needed to select from a menu of alternatives and to tailor practices to particular production systems Recommendation 5b. Land-grant universities should emphasize systems-based interdisciplinary research and teaching and foster instruction in applied biology and risk evaluation for nonscientists. There is a need to educate legislators and the general public about ecologically based pest management in research and in practice. Investment in increasing K–12 exposure to concepts of risk evaluation, foodagriculture, and general biology can also have enormous benefits in creating a more knowledgeable and educated electorate.
OCR for page 15
The Future Role of Pesticides in US Agriculture 5c. An effort should be made, in the government and in the landgrant system, to educate and train scientists about the value of public outreach. The public sector should provide incentives and training for scientists to communicate effectively to the public about principles and practices of ecologically based pest management. Such incentives are almost nonexistent in many institutions, particularly outside the agriculture colleges. Outreach efforts, because of their overall value in providing popular support for the research enterprise, should be accorded some commensurate value in decisions related to career advancement and professional stature. CODA Our goal in agriculture should be the production of high-quality food and fiber at low cost and with minimal deleterious effects on humans or the environment. To make agriculture more productive and profitable in the face of rising costs and rising standards of human and environmental health, we will have to use the best combination of available technologies. These technologies should include chemical, as well as biological and recombinant, methods of pest control integrated into ecologically balanced programs. The effort to reach the goal must be based on sound fundamental and applied research, and decisions must be based on science. Accomplishing the goal requires expansion of the research effort in government, industry, and university laboratories.
OCR for page 16
The Future Role of Pesticides in US Agriculture This page in the original is blank.
Representative terms from entire chapter: