Comments to USDA/CSREES Plant and Pest Biology Stakeholder Workshop on Research Priorities, held Fall 2002

Over the next quarter century, the world's population is expected to grow by an unprecedented 90 million people per year. The need to increase agricultural production and the concomitant pressures on the environment will pose a conundrum for scientists, particularly entomologists. Arthropod pests of animals and plants require continued investment of resources to determine means to mitigate their impact. Our ability to respond to and recover from an intentional or accidental biological attack on our supply of food and fiber, and on animal and human health, has assumed enormous importance. After reviewing the entomological research priorities, CEDA has developed a list of research issues that require high priority in CSREES-funded programs. Issues identified by our group have been mapped into the major issue identified by CSREES.

Agricultural and Environmental Quality

  • Develop less obtrusive and more benign pest management options, including development of pest-resistant crops and animals, using molecular and conventional techniques.
  • Expand knowledge of plant-arthropod interactions ranging from plant molecular signaling due to herbivory to landscape level interactions and system design.
  • Promote study of gene flow in ecosystems and impact on non-target organisms to explain agricultural biotechnology risk assessment.
  • Develop novel transgenic and biorational pest management options, including those based on chemical ecology.
  • Enhance efficacy of biologically based pest management options, biocontrol, and sustainable agricultural and natural resource practices that enhance conservation of key arthropods.
  • Develop detailed information on biodiversity and systematics of arthropods, and promote research on impact of agricultural and natural resource management on insect biodiversity.
  • Develop a better database of insects for use as bioindicators of environmental quality.
  • Enhance environmental toxicology research and methods of bioremediation of toxicants in soil and water using insect-specific detoxification systems.
  • Develop better knowledge of potential non-target effects on native ecosystems of accidentally or deliberately introduced species.
  • Expand research in structural pest management. Pest and pesticide-free living environments will reduce insect allergens in the home and work environments.

Agricultural Security

  • Promote characterization of ecological factors limiting spread of introduced, invasive species.
  • Develop systematic databases and rapid and sensitive detection methods for high-risk arthropod pests that might be introduced intentionally as either pests or as vectors.
  • Promote research on aerobiology in relation to insect movement.
  • Support research on biology/management of vectors of plant, livestock, and human diseases.
  • Promote research on preservation/management of native and managed pollinators.
  • Support research on conservation and use of exotic germplasm to manage introduced pests.

Genomics and Food and Fiber Production

  • Expand genomics and bioinformatics research with potential for insect manipulation and pest population management to improve food and fiber production, and to mitigate the impact of vectors of plant, animal, and human disease.

Human Nutrition

  • Support bioceutical and insecticeutical research and exploration, including mining insects for medically useful chemicals, and insects as a protein and fatty acid source in food.
  • Promote research on the role of arthropods as vectors of diseases of humans, domestic animals, and wildlife.

Food Safety

  • Support research on the role of insects in the ecology of antibiotic resistance in microbes of consequence to animal and human health, and on the role of insects in transmission of food-borne pathogens, a concern in food production, processing, and handling.
  • Continue to support research on post-harvest pest control in light of FQPA.