Fred Kirschenmann – Ecological management will replace failed ‘silver-bullet’ pest control


The term therapeutic intervention
for me at least comes out of an article that Joe Louis and his
colleagues published in the National Academy of Sciences
proceedings back in 1997 and Joe Louis of course is a
pest management specialist so he was they were writing, he and his colleagues were writing, about this in terms of their experience in pest management through their careers and he uses the language of single tactic
therapeutic intervention as the strategy for pest management. And what he meant by
that was that you got a pest problem and then you come
in with a pesticide from outside to get rid of that single pest that’s
the single tactic and the therapeutic intervention is the
therapy coming in to get rid of the pest, right? And he
says we now know after 50 years of using this approach that this approach is not
sustainable for two reasons he said one is that you can never get rid of all the target
pests so you in fact cause pest resistance which then increases the
problem that you’re trying to solve in the long term and secondly you never kill off only the target pest you also kill some
other biological organisms in the system some of which previously served as as
predators so that you actually cause pest
resurgence he said that we should not expect any different results from genetic engineering than we did from
chemical technology because it’s the same paradigm you’re
still coming in with the therapeutic intervention
inserting a single gene to have the effect to get rid of the pest and so over the long term it’s going to have
the same problems in terms of building resistance and having other negative
consequences they argued that the way in which we
have to approach pest management in the future now is from the point of view of natural systems management. So how do you
manage a system so that it reduces the likelihood of
pest emergence and he finally boils it down to a simple
set of questions: he said instead of asking how do I get rid of the pest what we should be asking is why is the pest
the pest? And if you go in that second direction than it’s gonna lead you into looking at what’s going on in the system and there’s now been some peer-reviewed
research that’s been done I think primarily in either Washington or
Oregon where they did research on potato production where they
had one research plot that was raising potatoes by the single tactic therapeutic intervention which you came in with the pesticide to get rid of the pest and the other the natural systems
management and what they found over several year of research was that the…. looking at it in terms of natural systems
management they actually had less loss of potatoes to
pest than they did in the single tactic therapeutic intervention.

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