Bug_BigWorkshop on Comparing the Environmental Effects of Pest Management Practices Across Cropping Systems

The workshop was held on Wednesday, March 4, from 8:15 am-5:15 pm Eastern at the National Academy of Sciences Keck Center.

The major goals of the workshop were to examine trade-offs in pest management approaches for weeds, insects, and diseases and compare environmental effects between different cropping systems, including GE and non-GE systems.

A panel of experts presented on a variety of topics, including: growth of organic, traditional, and genetically engineered (GE) crops; integrated pest management (IPM) practices; cover cropping; weed management and herbicide-resistant weeds; insect ecology in agro-ecosystems; and disease-resistant GE crops. The workshop is related to a separate, ongoing study being conducted by the National Research Council summarizing GE crops.

View agenda here.

Workshop Recap: This Storify collects the tweets and online discussion that took place at the workshop.

Click the links below to view videos of the presentations and discussions.
Norman Scott, Chairman, National Research Council Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources, Workshop Moderator
Keynote: Examining the Environmental Effects of Practices for Controlling Agricultural Pests
May BerenbaumUniversity of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Professor and Department Chair of Entomology. bio

May Berenbaum, Ph.D. has been on the faculty of the Department of Entomology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign since 1980, serving as head since 1992 and as Swanlund Chair of Entomology since 1996. She is known for elucidating chemical mechanisms underlying interactions between insects and their hostplants, including detoxification of natural and synthetic chemicals, and for applying ecological principles in developing sustainable management practices for natural and agricultural communities. Her research, supported primarily by NSF and USDA, has produced over 230 refereed scientific publications and 35 book chapters. A member of the National Academy of Sciences, she has chaired two National Research Council committees, the Committee on the Future of Pesticides in U.S. Agriculture (2000) and the Committee on the Status of Pollinators in North America (2007). Devoted to teaching and fostering scientific literacy through formal and informal education, she has authored numerous magazine articles and six books about insects for the general public. She graduated summa cum laude, with a B.S. degree and honors in biology, from Yale University in 1975 and received a Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology from Cornell University in 1980.

Topic: Broad discussion of environmental issues surrounding agricultural production systems. Topics include pesticide residues; biodiversity; emergence of weed resistance and consequences for the environment and production; soil health; soil and nutrient losses; water quality and quantity; energy use; air quality; tradeoffs in yield; scale effects.
 Panel I: Contemporary Practices for Suppressing Weeds
Jay Hill, New Mexico Farmer. bio

Jay Hill is a second generation farmer in southern New Mexico. Jay partners with his father, Jim Hill, on their 750-acre farm started by Jim in 1969. Upon graduation New Mexico State University with a Bachelor of Science degree, Jay returned to Hill Farms in 2008 and took over the reins of the operation. Hill Farms produces more than 18 million pounds of fresh onions annually. In addition to onions, Jay grows world famous New Mexico Green Chile peppers, lettuce, wheat, oats, alfalfa, pinto beans, corn and pecans. In 2012, Jay started a small beef cattle herd, which has grown to 60 head of mother cows.

Topic: Pest management in corn and vegetable production
Steven Mirsky, USDA-ARS, Research Ecologist. bio

Dr. Steven Mirsky conducts cover crop systems research for ecologically based crop and weed management to maintain crop profitability, while enhancing soil and water quality and reducing crop production energetic requirements. His work couples empirical agronomic research in the field, using both a long-term cropping system experiment and additional field trials, with simulation models to optimize agro-ecosystem economic profitability and environmental sustainability.

Topic: Ecologically-based weed management in long-term cropping studies
David Mortensen, Pennsylvania State University, Professor of Weed and Applied Plant Ecology. bio

Dr. Dave Mortensen’s research and teaching focuses on deepening our understanding of ecologically-informed weed management in agriculture and wildlands. Mortensen’s ecologically-based research has been highlighted in international journals (133), Congressional testimony, numerous Congressional briefings and his selection to head up several national competitive grants programs in Washington, D.C. His research and outreach team is actively engaged in field and simulation research assessing sustainable weed management and ecological restoration methods for managing invasive plants along natural gas pipelines and roadway rights of way. In addition, his group is researching methods aimed at quantifying pollinator-plant interactions in an attempt to identify management methods that both enhance and suppress provisioning plants and the bees that depend on them. At Penn State, Mortensen has chaired the Ecology Inter College Graduate Degree Program and teaches Principles of Weed Management, Plant Ecology and the Ecology of Agricultural Systems. Dr. Mortensen received a Master of Science degree from Duke University and a Ph.D. from North Carolina State University. He has served as a faculty member at the University of Nebraska and Penn State University.

Topic: Sustainable weed management in herbicide-resistant cropping systems
Jennifer Schmidt, Maryland Farmer and Registered Dietitian. bio

Jennifer lives on a family farm with her husband and two children. Schmidt Farms is a 3rd generation, large and diverse family farm, including grains, vegetables, hay and wine grapes on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. When she’s not found on a tractor, Jennie spends her time as an “Ag-vocate”, telling the story of agriculture and family farming to consumers, dietitians, and legislators. She is active on social media and with “CommonGround”, a volunteer farm women’s group dedicated to sharing authentic and transparent stories about food and farming. Jennie is Vice President, and the first (and only) female on the Maryland Grain Producers board of directors. She also represents the state of Maryland on the U.S. Wheat Foods Council. She is passionate about connecting people with food and with farming and highlighting the importance of family farming in our food supply. Jennie holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Nutrition and International Agriculture from the University of Massachusetts and completed her Master of Science degree at the University of Delaware in Human Nutrition with a focus on Food and Agricultural Biotechnology.

Topic: Integrating weed, pest, and disease management across crops within farming
Discussion of Environmental Effects, Trade-Offs, and Synergies
Panel II: Insect Management Across Production Systems
Galen Dively, University of Maryland, Professor Emeritus and IPM Consultant. bio

Dr. Galen P. Dively is an emeritus professor in the Department of Entomology at the University of Maryland. He received his bachelor’s degree in biology at Juniata College and doctorate in entomology from Rutgers University. He worked as an Extension Specialist in Agricultural IPM for 34 years. In this role, Dr. Dively developed monitoring and decision-making guidelines to reduce pesticide use in vegetable and field crops, and was involved in numerous IPM educational and demonstration projects. In the mid 90’s, he began field studies to address the ecological and resistance risks of transgenic insecticidal crops, and was the lead or co-investigator on five USDA Biotechnology Risk Assessment Program grants. He also was part of a research team that assessed the impact of transgenic corn on the monarch butterfly, which resulted in six scientific articles that significantly influenced EPA’s science-based decision process regarding re-registration of Bt corn. Since this retirement in 2006, he continues to conduct research on transgenic Bt crops, sublethal effects of pesticides on honey bee colony health, efficacy evaluation of insecticides, and studies addressing information gaps in the biology and management of the invasive brown marmorated stink bug.

Topic: Regional suppression of the European corn borer and its impacts on other host crops due to the Bt corn technology
Jonathan Lundgren, USDA-ARS, Research Entomologist. bio

Jonathan Lundgren is an insect ecologist and Research Entomologist at the USDA-ARS laboratory in Brookings, South Dakota. He received my PhD in Entomology from the University of Illinois in 2004. Lundgren’s professional achievements have resulted in him being awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Science and Engineering (the highest honor given to young scientists by the Office of the President), the Rothbart Early Career Scientist for USDA-ARS, and the Early Career Innovation Award from the Entomological Society of America. For the past two years, he has acted as Panel Manager for NIFA’s Biotechnology Risk Assessment Grants Program and in 2014 Lundgren served on the EPA’s and EFSA’s scientific advisory panels to assess the safety of RNAi-based pesticides and GM plants. Earlier in his career, Dr. Lundgren served on national- and internationally sponsored working groups to A) assess the ecological risk of introducing Bt cotton into Brazil (GMO Guidelines Project), B) evaluate and implement meta-analysis of cross-study trends as a tool for assessing the non-target effects of Bt crops, and I have worked with industry, academia, and regulators on peer-reviewed papers that helped establish risk assessment protocols for Bt crops. He is actively involved in the Entomological Society of America, and his tenure as the President for the International Organization for Biological Control (Nearctic Regional Section) ended in January. Lundgren is an editor for Environmental Entomology, and formally for Arthropod-Plant Interactions, and has reviewed manuscripts for more than 50 scientific journals. Internationally, he was a visiting scientist at CABI in Delemont Switzerland, and with CIAT in Cali Colombia. Currently, Lundgren has written 97 peer-review journal articles, authored the book “Relationships of Natural Enemies and Non-prey Foods” (Springer Publishers), co-edited the Biological Control special issue “Trophic Ecology of the Coccinellidae”, and has received more than $3 million in extramural grant funds. One of his priorities is to make science applicable to end-users, and he regularly interacts with the public, beekeepers, and farmers regarding pest management and insect biology. His research program focuses on assessing the ecological risk of pest management strategies and developing sustainable, long-term solutions for managing pests in cropland, and Lundgren’s ecological research focuses heavily on conserving healthy biological communities within agroecosystems by reducing disturbance and increasing biodiversity within cropland.

Topic: Managing insect communities in the agro-ecosystem
John Tooker, Pennsylvania State University, Associate Professor of Entomology, Extension Specialist. bio

John Tooker is an Associate Professor of Insect Ecology and an Extension Specialist in the Department of Entomology at the Pennsylvania State University. His research group studies relationships among plants, insect herbivores, and natural enemies to understand factors that regulate populations of herbivorous insects. They are interested in both plant- and natural-enemy-mediated factors and how they influence insect behavior, community composition, and herbivore mortality. Their long-term goal is to exploit the ecology/biology of our study organisms to provide strategies and tactics for more sustainable insect pest management.

Topic: Complex ecological effects of pest management approaches
Frank Shotkoski, Cornell University, Director of the Agriculture Biotechnology Support Project II. bio

Frank Shotkoski, Ph.D. is the Director of the Agricultural Biotechnology Support Project II (ABSPII) at Cornell University where he directs a USAID funded project with a mandate to commercialize genetically engineered crops in developing countries in Africa and Asia. Before joining Cornell University in 2005, Frank worked as the Global Cotton Traits Technical Manager with Novartis and later Syngenta from 1998-2004 where he built a cotton biotechnology program that resulted in the development of trait-based product using the insecticidal protein Vip3A. Prior to joining Syngenta, Frank held the positions of Research Associate and Research Fellow at the University of Washington’s Department of Medical Genetics where he conducted research on human gene therapy applications with an emphasis on developing gene-based therapies for treatment of patients with hematopoietic diseases such a sickle cell anemia and β-thalasemia. Frank is a senior level biotechnology project management and business development professional specializing in product development and commercialization of genetically engineered trait-based crop products. His expertise stems from over 20 years of academic and industrial experience in both medical and agricultural biotechnology. Frank earned his Ph.D. in Entomology from the University of Minnesota in 1992 and Master of Science and Bachelor of Science from the University of Nebraska in 1988 and 1984, respectively. He has received additional training in numerous professional project management and business development programs. He is the author of many refereed publications; numerous patents, abstracts and several book chapters.

Topic: Examination of Bt eggplant release in Bangladesh
Discussion of Environmental Effects, Trade-Offs, and Synergies
 Panel III: Managing Pests in Tree Crops
 Harold BrowningChief Officer of the Citrus Research and Development Foundation, Inc. bio

Harold Browning, The Chief Operations Officer of the Citrus Research and Development Foundation, is responsible for the day-to-day management of the business affairs, administering the programs and policies approved by the Board of Directors pertaining to the planning and directing of the activities of the CRDF. CRDF emerged in 2009 to provide leadership and management to an aggressive research plan to address the detection of Huanglongbing (HLB) in Florida citrus. The CRDF manages a portfolio of multi-year research contracts with research scientists in 22 states and several international institutions. The CRDF has managed over $75 million in research, development and delivery projects since it was established in 2009. The budget for FY 2013-14 is $19.3 million. All contracting and contract management is overseen by the COO. In addition, the research and commercialization management conducted by the research manager is overseen by the COO. The COO is responsible for maintaining close communication with sponsors, citrus industry organizations, and state and federal coordinating groups related to citrus. As the COO of CRDF, Dr. Browning also serves in the following advisory roles: USDA, APHIS Citrus Health Response Program, National Citrus Council; Administrator for USDA, NIFA, SCRI CAP grant to develop and deliver a psyllid vector incapable of transmitting HLB. This is a 5 year, 9 million dollar grant managed by CRDF; and Florida Citrus liaison to state and federal efforts to seek funding for HLB research.

Topic: Pest management in citrus: Past, present and future
Marc Fuchs, Cornell University, Associate Professor. bio

Dr. Marc Fuchs joined the Department of Plant Pathology at Cornell University in 2004. His research and extension program focuses on virus diseases of fruit and vegetable crops. Marc received his Master’s and PhD degrees from the University Louis Pasteur in Strasbourg, France. He has worked on engineering resistance to viruses in vegetable and fruit crops over the past 20 years. He has also extensively addressed environmental safety issues related to the release of virus-resistant transgenic crops.

Topic: Virus-Resistance: Lessons and Prospects
Discussion of Environmental Effects, Trade-Offs, and Synergies
Topic: Discussion summarizing information gaps and research needs across different pest management practices and agricultural production systems

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