IPM Voice Newsletter                                                                                                           February 2016

Support Needed for Areawide IPM Funding Bill
Representatives Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Jerry McNerney (D-CA), John Garamendi (D-CA), Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and Pedro Pierluisi (D-PR) recently introduced H.R. 3893, the Areawide Integrated Pest Management Act of 2015. This legislation will support long-term and sustainable Areawide IPM solutions to reduce the impact of invasive species on agriculture, ranching and natural resources. 
Areawide IPM, also known as diversified IPM, includes large-scale, multi-state or regional initiatives focusing on the long-term development of multiple managed ecosystems, with emphasis on enhanced stability and sustainability of IPM systems.
In the 2014 publication, Background and Descriptions of the Crop Protection and Pest Management Focus Areas, USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture described these initiatives:
Diversified IPM systems represent the long-term sustainable solution to many pest management problems. This program area will support long-term projects focused on the development and implementation of innovative IPM systems on an area or landscape basis. Diversified IPM systems incorporate multiple tactics and take into account all factors relevant to entire production systems, including the effect of cropping sequences, livestock production, and the influence of external factors on the system. The outcomes associated with IPM systems projects will be reduced reliance on single pest management tactics, the reduction of potential risks to human health and the environment caused by pests or the use of pest management practices, and increased economic benefits of adopting IPM practices.
For example, Areawide Suppression of Fire Ant Populations in Pastures was aimed at reducing fire ant populations in sites spread out over five southern US states by combining strategic pesticide applications with two biocontrol agents from South America: the fire ant-decapitating fly, Pseudacteon tricuspis, and the pathogen Thelohania solenopsae. Demonstration sites as large as 640 acres were chosen to represent the range of the fire ant's geographic distribution. This project was a partnership between the Agricultural Research Service, the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the University of Florida, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State University.
Although Areawide IPM programs have received bipartisan support over the years from the USDA, Congress and former presidents, inadequate funding has hampered implementation in the Crop Protection/Pest Management (CP/PM) program, the funding line for core IPM support.  National competitive grant funding available through the CP/PM is insufficient to support these projects on the scale on which they are effective.
Those working to advance the Areawide IPM Act of 2015 aim to build congressional, national, regional, and local support for institutionalizing Areawide IPM in annual USDA/OMB budget recommendations to avoid multiple, ongoing funding campaigns.  Endorsements for the bill to date have come from the Entomological Society of America, the National Farmers Union, the Weed Science Society of America, and the Hawaiʻi Farmers Union United. Advocates of the bill are seeking brief, one-page success stories on Areawide IPM programs in agriculture to support presentations to potential supporters. Additional organizational endorsements, letters to local congressmen and general letters of support are also welcome. If you'd like to volunteer one of these, please contact Dave Chun in Representative Gabbard's office.
CRISPR Gene-Editing Technology May Transform Genetic Engineering, Food Systems, and Nature
In 2016, IPM Voice, in partnership with Red Tomato and the Frameworks Institute, is focused on funding development for a multi-year effort to translate complex scientific agricultural issues into narratives the public and consumers can relate to. Public discourse on farming and food production is often polarized and simplistic. Many positive, sustainable practices are underappreciated by consumers. The collaborators in the new Food Narrative Project seek to improve consumer understanding by constructing a new discourse that leads to better understanding of the ways in which agriculture, food, health and the environment interact.
Genetic modification of crops is a complex issue where a more accurate understanding could benefit agriculture and food production. For example, a new gene-editing technique known as CRISPR-Cas9 has been making headlines as a "game-changer" for food, farmers, consumers and nature. CRISPR is a highly targeted gene-editing technique that allows scientists to alter DNA much more quickly and precisely. CRISPR is exciting scientists and agriculturalists worldwide because of its potentially transformative nature, but has also raised concerns about who will control the technology, who it will benefit, and whether it will have unintended consequences on environmental health.
CRISPR was developed when scientists noticed that bacteria store genetic sequences from invading viruses in a "genetic library." If the bacteria encounter the same virus again, they mobilize the enzyme Cas9 to slice up the invaders' corresponding genetic material. Scientists realized this process could be adapted for use in other organisms, and used to edit DNA at any point in a genome. The CRISPR technique allows for high-precision editing of genes: scientists can easily swap out undesired traits for desired ones, disable gene function, and introduce new genetic material that can metastasize quickly and totally through a population of organisms, a technique known as gene drive. Scientists can now perform an easy genetic nip-and-tuck on the genome of any organism that has been fully sequenced, essentially a "find and replace" function for genetics. Perhaps most significantly, CRISPR allows for non-transgenic genetic engineering, a distinction its proponents are quick to trumpet.
The technique holds promise for greatly enhancing control of plants and animals' trait expression, and could be used to wipe out pests, crop and livestock diseases and insect-borne diseases such as Lyme, malaria and West Nile Virus. Critics have questioned how precisely gene editing will be implemented, and have speculated that genetic mutations could propagate unpredictably through wild populations of plants and animals. Observers have asked whether the technology will ultimately benefit the public or developers, and have noted the lack of international consensus on protocols for ethical genomic agricultural science.
To read more on CRISPR and how it works, please visit Ensia.
New Experimental Method to Detect Lyme Disease at Earliest Time of Infection Also Emphasizes Greater Need for Integrated Tick Management
Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine have discovered a new experimental method for detecting Lyme disease-and perhaps any human bacterial infection-at the earliest time of infection.
To detect the disease, researchers use a high speed centrifuge to separate target proteins shed by the pathogens as they are attacked by the body's immune defenses. As reported via the Health Medicine Network, NIST research chemist Larik Turko explains: "Our hypothesis was that Lyme bacteria shed vesicle-like particles (or fragments) derived from the cell wall of the bacteria circulating in the serum of individuals. These particles would contain membrane proteins that can be detected to provide a unique indicator of infection."
The primary currently available blood test for Lyme disease relies on finding Lyme antibodies in the bloodstream, which only develop to detectable levels four to six weeks after the initial infection. An early onset symptom, the bull's-eye rash, only appears in 70 to 80 percent of Lyme disease patients, leaving the remaining 20 to 30 percent at increased risk for undiagnosed development of the disease.
Lyme disease--along with other tick-borne diseases (TBDs) such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis and babesiosis--is a growing problem in North America. Although early detection is an essential tool in the fight against this disease, there is no substitute for prevention. To address this potential public health epidemic, the IPM Institute is teaming up with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Entomological Society of America to host the 2016 Integrated Tick Management Symposium on May 16-17 in Washington DC. This Symposium will seek to address the current status of the tick TBD problem and current practices for Integrated Tick Management (ITM). Presenters at the event will detail the connection between ITM, reducing tick populations and preventing disease transmission, as well as identify knowledge gaps, prioritize needs and identify impactful approaches, collaborations and investments to significantly reduce the burden of illness of TBDs. More information can be found at http://entsoc.org/ITMS. To read more about the new method for detecting Lyme disease, please see the Health Medicine Network.

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Upcoming IPM-Related Meetings and Conferences
March 3-4, 20162016 Biocontrols Conference & Expo,
Monterey, CA 
March 7-10, 2016. 27th Vertebrate Pest Conference. Newport Beach, CA
May 16-17, 2016. International Tick Management Symposium. Washington DC
University Park, PA
September 25-30, 2016. XXV International Congress of Entomology. Orlando, FL
IPM Voice is an independent non-profit organization that seeks to make IPM intelligible and valuable to the world including to the public, the grower community and lawmakers.  Our core purpose is to strengthen IPM communities by adding effective communication to the IPM toolbox.  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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