St. Paul, MN (August 15, 2001) It used to be that most growers had a simple way of dealing with pests that plagued their crops; they relied on a myriad of chemicals, applying them routinely in an effort to protect their harvest. But times have changed. Environmental and health concerns have lead to a decreased use of chemicals, while simultaneously our knowledge of non-chemical disease control methods has increased substantially. But scientists wonder if these new methods will prove effective in the long run. Many consider this one of the key agricultural issues of the decade, prompting the worlds largest group of plant health scientists to hold a special symposium at the end of August to discuss the economics of what is called Integrated Pest Management, or IPM.
At one time common practice held that growers applied chemicals to their crops on a rotating basis whether they had pests or not. But with IPM, chemicals are used only when a pest infestation has been detected, and then the chemical of choice is likely to be a new, so called reduced-risk variety, a name given by the EPA to chemicals deemed safer to workers and to the environment because they either require a smaller dose, degrade more quickly in the environment, or are less toxic than other products on the market. But the key concept in IPM programs is the word "integrated," since the overall IPM strategy calls for growers to rely first on techniques like frequent monitoring, biotechnology and sanitation to manage potential pests and to use chemicals only when necessary.
"Growers have been very willing to adopt IPM programs since they see the value both in the marketplace and to the environment as well," states Lorianne Fought, a plant pathologist with Bayer Corp. and organizer of the symposium. But she adds that even though IPM programs are popular, they can be very expensive to administer and their long-term effectiveness is still unknown. Fought hopes the symposium will be a first step fPage: 1 2 Related biology news :1
Contact: Cindy Ash
American Phytopathological Society
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