IPM Voice Newsletter                                                                                                           November 2015

New Organic & IPM Working Group Addresses Synergies Needed to Meet Food Production Challenges 
The Organic & IPM Working Group, an ongoing USDA NIFA-funded coalition of leaders from the organic and IPM communities, has released a new publication examining opportunities for greater collaboration to meet the food production challenges of the 21st century. Organic Agriculture and Integrated Pest Management: Synergistic Partnership Needed to Improve the Sustainability of Agriculture and Food Systems summarizes the history of IPM and organic agriculture, challenges faced, common needs and opportunities to move forward including policy reforms to accelerate progress.  Organic and IPM practice adoption currently falls far below its potential, with less than 10% of US cropland maximally benefiting from these opportunities to reduce impacts.  As Dr. Brian Baker, co-editor, reports, "Public and private investment in research, development, technology transfer and demonstration of organic, IPM and other sustainable farming systems has not kept pace with the demands of the global food system's economic, ecological and social imperatives.  While organic and IPM have some differences, we have much more in common and have opportunities to work together to fulfill these shared priorities."  The paper can be read in full here.
Debate on Pesticide Regulation for Cannabis Growers Heats Up as Colorado Faces its First Product Liability Lawsuit Due to Pesticide Residue
The rapidly expanding cannabis industry in Colorado is facing what may be the first of many legal challenges to its product safety standards and practices.  Flores v. Livwell was filed by two Colorado residents who claim the cannabis grower Livwell, Inc. sold consumers cannabis products tainted with the fungicide Eagle 20 without properly warning of the risks. Eagle 20 contains myclobutanil, a chemical which plaintiffs allege breaks down into the highly toxic hydrogen cyanide when heated.  The legal challenge opens the door to questions about what responsibilities the Colorado cannabis industry has for the safety of its customers in the face of a regulatory void.
 
Pesticide use on Colorado recreational cannabis crops is unregulated. Normally the task falls to the Environmental Protection Agency, but since the plant is an illegal Schedule 1 drug at the federal level, no pesticide testing is carried out, and the federal government offers no training or guidance to growers or the state. Although Colorado state law requires pesticide residue testing of cannabis products, the state has not yet initiated testing. The Colorado Department of Agriculture has posted a list of 21 pesticides that may be appropriate for use on cannabis.
 
Colorado recently experienced its two largest recalls to date of cannabis edibles over pesticide concerns. The Denver Department of Environmental Health also quarantined over 100,000 cannabis plants in March 2015 after a Denver Fire Department inspection noted potential illegal pesticide use. Read more about the Colorado cannabis industry's pesticide worries here and here.
New Paper Documents Value of Biological Control for Aphids in Cereal Crops
A recent paper by Swedish researchers has highlighted the value of biological control as an ecosystem service. Dr. Mattias Jonsson, lead author of the paper, spoke with Food Tank recently about how natural enemies of aphids in Swedish barley fields reduced crop damage by more than half in the researchers' study. The project examined how landscape type and diversity correlate with biological control potential for agriculture, with an eye towards mapping that potential and estimating its approximate economic value as an ecosystem service. "Landscapes with a high complexity provide natural enemies with alternative food resources and shelter from disturbances. This increases both their abundance and diversity," said Dr. Jonsson. Diversifying crops and maintaining natural grasslands helps nurture natural predators of pests.
 
The authors' goal is to offer a conceptual model for incorporating the value of biological control as an ecosystem service into the overall economic appraisal of agricultural land, and to provide a more complete assessment of the need for pesticide applications. The authors suggest the study could inform Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) schemes that reward farmers who create high biological control potential on their land. Read the full study here.
Dogs and Drones Used to Sniff Out Disease in Avocado Trees
Researchers with Florida International University (FIU) are using aerial drones in conjunction with specially trained dogs to detect the fungus Raffaelea lauricola on avocado trees in South Florida. The fungus, spread by the Redbay ambrosia beetle, causes laurel wilt in avocado trees and may pose a serious threat to the North American avocado industry.
 
Raffaelea lauricola spores are deposited inside trees by the beetle, which uses the fungus to feed its young. Ninety percent of infected trees die within six weeks if left untreated. If the fungus isn't detected early, adjacent trees are easily infected. In North America, laurel wilt has destroyed 500 million trees in the laurel family. Avocados are the primary commercial species affected and one of the top fruits consumed in the US. Florida's avocado industry is relatively small; California's is ten times larger and Mexico's is 100 times larger. Growers are very concerned about potential spread. Avocados in general do not generate a large profit margin, and since it currently costs $1200 per acre to treat with a fungicide, some farmers are considering abandoning groves altogether in favor of more profitable crops.
 
The fungus detection program is a collaboration between the FIU Forensic DNA Profiling Facility and Innovative Detection Concepts, a for-profit FIU start-up, via a contract with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Community Affairs. Its specially trained dogs are effective at sniffing out the fungus on the trees. FIU's program currently has grant funding through March 2016. Read more about the detection program and the spread of the disease  here and here.
No News on Crop Protection and Pest Management Program
Congress has not provided any guidance to USDA NIFA on how to manage the discrepancies between the House and Senate versions of the ag appropriations bill, reported in the September IPM Voice newsletter.  Under the current continuing resolution, NIFA FY 2016 funds for core IPM programs are on hold and likely will remain so until the ag appropriations bill is passed.

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Upcoming IPM-Related Meetings and Conferences
January 11-13, 2016. Purdue Pest Management Conference
. West Lafayette, IN
March 3-4, 20162016 Biocontrols Conference & Expo, Monterey, CA 
March 7-10, 2016. 27th Vertebrate Pest Conference. Newport Beach, CA
University Park, PA
September 25-30, 2016. XXV International Congress of Entomology. Orlando, FL

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.

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