CAST Report on Integrated Pest Management Sets Out a Safer Future for Everyone

July 1, 2003

For Immediate Release: July 2003

CAST Report on Integrated Pest Management Sets Out a Safer Future for Everyone

July 2003 . . .Washington, D.C. . . . The Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) is releasing Integrated Pest Management: Current and Future Strategies, a report that offers a comprehensive, insightful, and up-to-date analysis of the issues involved in pest control. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is about making informed choices that impact positively on crops, animals, and the environment, as well as on society. The CAST report is designed to offer policymakers, opinion makers, and educators an informed overview of the changing nature of these choices in the twenty-first century.

This new report sets out the scientific, environmental, and political contexts in which IPM has developed over the last two decades. The document represents a thorough reevaluation of this approach to pest management, which was addressed in an earlier CAST report on the same topic in 1982.

“Many of the technologies that now impact IPM simply did not exist two decades ago,” the report’s chair, Dr. Kenneth R. Barker, North Carolina State University, explains. “In preparing this latest assessment, the successful integration of these new and improved tools was considered a critical priority. The authors also stress that the concept of IPM has extended beyond crops, animals, and rangelands to include homes, businesses, schools, and other public buildings. It is a topic that directly affects most citizens.” Dr. Barker led the multidisciplinary task force of 20 academic contributors who examined the availability of these new pest management tools and considered how integrated approaches will maximize their benefits.

There are many definitions of IPM. The working definition of the report is “a sustainable approach to managing pests by combining biological, cultural, physical, and chemical tools in a way that minimizes economic, health, and environmental risks.” “Essentially, it is a system of practices that leads to the most economical and environmentally friendly actions being taken to control pests,” Dr. Barker comments.

The launch of the report is timely for a number of reasons. At an environmental level, invasive native and nonnative pests—including many insects, pathogens, and weeds—are posing new threats to the environment while at a management level, pest challenges must be met within the context of increasingly restrictive regulatory controls. The political context of IPM has evolved over the last decade. In 1993, the U.S. government set a national goal of 75% IPM implementation on U.S. crop acres, and in 1996 the Food Quality Protection Act established IPM as the pest control paradigm for federal properties and programs. The recently published Roadmap for Integrated Pest Management sets out the Federal Government's current strategy. Objective, science-based information is essential for policymakers to address effectively the complex issues involved.

"The pace of development has meant that a complete revisiting of the topic was appropriate,” comments Dr. Teresa A. Gruber, Executive Vice President of CAST. “Although others have addressed aspects of IPM, we feel that the CAST approach represents the most comprehensive contribution to the subject.”

The new report examines the environment as a series of distinct but interlinked ecosystems, from crop and animal production systems to rangeland, pastures, and forests to aquatic ecosystems and urban environments, and assesses for each the most appropriate interventions in terms of pest control techniques. Cultural practices, biological controls, conventional and new chemistry pesticides, transgenic pesticidal plants, precision application techniques, and diagnostic tools all are considered.

The authors identify seven key issues that future IPM strategies must address. These include

  • impact of biotechnology on agriculture;
  • genetic diversity and pest adaptability;
  • ecology-based management systems;
  • increased understanding of microflora/fauna in the environment;
  • training and technology transfer;
  • government policies and regulations; and
  • need for continuous assessment of strategy.

The new CAST report is essential reading for anyone participating in debate and/or making decisions about pest management strategies and tools, including the applications of pesticides in the environment. It also makes an excellent textbook resource for students seeking a grounding in IPM issues. “CAST’s mission statement is to bring the most objective, insightful, and relevant scientific information to the widest possible audience. This new report represents a valuable and unique contribution to the ongoing debate about pest management,” Dr. Gruber comments.

The complete report, Integrated Pest Management: Current and Future Strategies, 246pp., is available online at www.cast-science.org along with many of CAST’s other scientific works, or may be purchased ($50.00 plus shipping) by contacting CAST at 515-292-2125. CAST is an international consortium of 38 scientific and professional societies. CAST assembles, interprets, and communicates science-based information regionally, nationally, and internationally on food, fiber, agricultural, natural resource, and related societal and environ-mental issues to its stakeholders—legislators, regulators, policymakers, the media, the private sector, and the public.