IPM Voice Newsletter January 2015
Groups Push to Increase Funding for Agricultural Research on Capitol Hill
Federal IPM funding has been in decline since 2000. Although IPM Voice and other groups successfully worked to prevent and restore some USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) IPM funding cuts in recent years, reductions have continued. USDA IPM core funding in 2000 was about $30 million, now it is about $17 million. Some of the most recent cuts came in the form of new overhead charges allowed on IPM funding that were previously passed through by host Land Grant Universities directly to IPM programs without this "tax." This overhead contributes to the overall costs of running IPM programs and reduces the dollars available to implement IPM.
Many, like Dr. Mike Harrington, the Executive Director of the Western Association of Agricultural Experiment Stations and one of the advisors to the IPM working group of the Board on Agriculture Assembly (BAA), believe that for a healthy US IPM research/extension effort, even more than the year 2000 level funding is required, along the lines of $50 million per year. This level of core investment is dwarfed by crop damage from pests that would benefit from additional and improved IPM systems. For example, spotted wing drosophila alone likely caused more than $500 million in damage to western fruit crops in 2008. Brown marmorated stink bug may have been responsible for $37 million in damage to the eastern apple crop in 2010. Though the USDA has made additional investments to respond to these crises, through the Specialty Crops Research Initiative, for example, the consequences of these devastating pests are exacerbated by a deficit in core funding and infrastructure, which take precious time and dollars to scale up in order to respond to these threats effectively.
Several groups are now organizing around the need for increased research funding for IPM and agriculture in general. On December 5, 2014, a collaborative team supported by the Charles Valentine Riley Memorial Foundation and Iowa State University released "Pursuing a Unifying Message: Elevating Food, Agricultural and Natural Resources Research as a National Priority." In the release, Dean Wendy Wintersteen compares the USDA R&D budget at $2.4 billion to R&D at the National Institute of Health which is $29 billion, Department of Energy at $11 billion and the National Science Foundation at $5.6 billion. The report stresses the benefits of maintaining US leadership in R&D internationally and the need for innovative research to address pressing issues including climate change, malnutrition and obesity. A recording of the report launch is available here.
Coordinated, professional efforts can be successful in increasing support. The BAA, representing the interests of the Land Grant universities' R&D and extension programs, contracts with Cornerstone Government Affairs, a government relations and lobbying firm based in Washington, D.C. Cornerstone helped secure an $11.8 million increase for the USDA NIFA in the December 2014 appropriations bill, including more than $8 million addressing BAA priorities.
NPR Reports on New Mosquito-Borne Virus in Central America and U.S.
At the beginning of January, National Public Radio's (NPR) All Things Considered reported on the chikungunya virus (pronounced chicken-goon-ya), including IPM measures to control the vector - mosquitoes. Chikungunya is a non-fatal disease that causes joint pain and fevers with massive outbreaks in the Caribbean and Central American region. Last year 795,000 chikungunya cases were reported in 37 countries. Cases in the U.S. were primarily limited to travelers who had contracted the virus while visiting Carribean, Central and South American nations.
Unfortunately, it looks like that is all about to change. Reported by NPR, the virus has spread to mosquitoes in southeastern Florida and has been transmitted to eleven people there. This is a small number for now, but Professor Walter Tabachnick, who leads the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory had this to say, "There's very little predictability for chikungunya. But would 50,000 or 100,000 cases in Florida be surprising? I don't know. I don't think so. I wouldn't be surprised." Tabachnick then offers advice on eliminating mosquito-breeding habitat to control the population of mosquitoes and thus the spread of chikungunya. He advises cleaning up yards and eliminating pools of standing water like watering cans and pots. Read or listen to the article on NPR's blog.
Highly Effective Bed Bug Lure Developed by Simon Fraser University Scientists
In the last days of 2014 scientists from Simon Fraser University released a study in which they developed a highly effective bed bug lure using chemicals found in shed bed bug skins and feces. For eight years, husband and wife team Regine and Gerhard Gries worked to develop lures for this pest which spreads quickly and is difficult to manage. Using gas chromatographic and mass spectrometric tools, their initial research produced a blend of pheromones that effectively attracted bed bugs in the lab, but was ineffective when tested in apartments.
In this newly reported research, they focused on chemicals found in miniscule quantities in shed bed bug skins identified with alternate techniques. They discovered that histamine is a "safe shelter" signal to bed bugs that also signals the insects to stay put when they reach the source of the histamine. Histamine and pheromones were also ineffective at luring bed bugs in real-world settings until three airborne volatile compounds released from bed bug feces were added. All of these ingredients together resulted in a lure that has proven its effectiveness in trials in homes.
The scientists are now working to develop a commercial lure with Contech Enterprises. At an estimated cost of only ten cents per trap, the chemical blend may result in an affordable solution. They predict that the traps will be useful in detecting and monitoring bed bug infestations in early stages. There is some concern that the traps will be ineffective in severe infestations because female bed bugs tend to avoid crowded situations such as those that may be found in traps. Read more about this study and its implications here.
It's Not Too Late!
Renew your IPM Voice membership for 2015 (or become a new member) by visiting http://www.ipmvoice.org/join.htm.
Upcoming IPM-Related Meetings and Conferences
February 3-5, 2015. Wildlife Expo Presented by NWCOA and NPMA. Myrtle Beach, SC
February 19-20, 2015. Agricultural Outlook Forum: Smart Agriculture in the 21st Century. Arlington, VA.
February 25-26, 2015. Organic Agriculture Research Symposium. La Crosse, WI
February 26-28, 2015. MOSES Organic Farming Conference. La Crosse, WI
March 1-4, 2015. 16th Wildlife Damage Management Conference. Gatlinburg, TN
March 23-26, 2015. Eighth International IPM Symposium. Salt Lake City, UT
April 19-21, 2015. PestWorld East. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
August 24-27, 2015. The XVII International Plant Protection Congress. Berlin, Germany
October 19-22, 2015. ESBCP 2-15, the Fourth Regional Conference of Applied Biological Control of Pests. Cairo, Egypt.
IPM Voice is an independent, non-profit organization advocating for integrated pest management (IPM) that is genuinely progressive and seeks continuous improvement of environmental, social and economic conditions through application of accepted scientific principles. IPM Voice was formed in 2010 by more than 35 professionals working to expand the benefits IPM has provided to agriculture and communities for more than 40 years.
IPM Voice, Inc. / 1020 Regent Street Madison, Wisconsin 53715 / 608-232-1410 / www.ipmvoice.org