"Mother Nature's Managers" (November, 1996, page 14) captures the essence of the transition of pest management that is taking place out of necessity. Regulation and voluntary adoption of IPM have barely made a dent in the increase in pesticide use.
Grandfathering old products and gridlock in registering new products has ensured a status quo that is dynamic only in seeing marginal appreciably reduced pesticide risks?
Pest Management at the Crossroads (PMAC) rejects marginal measures and half-steps, and puts forth a bold, coherent view of how biointensive IPM can make real strides in ending pesticide dependency. While it stops short of endorsing organic agriculture, the authors make great use of familiar success stories in organic farming to show that such systems are practical and profitable. On the whole, PMAC captures the cutting edge and offers a sophisticated, yet accessible view of a bright future in crop protection.
The focus of the recommendation is toward policymakers, not practitioners. After following many systems developed at the grassroots, the conclusions get a stiff neck by looking from the top down. This is to be expected from someone who has spent his career inside the Beltway, and the nation's largest consumer organization. To use Richardson's analogy, PMAC's road map has all the freeways, but lacks the country roads. The broad-brushed goals, regulatory reforms and reallocation of resources will help, no doubt, bring about the transition to biointensive IPM. The market-oriented solutions don't seem to draw enough on experience, and it is in the hands of the growers and pest control advisors to point the way to make the transition crop by crop, region by region.
The technology and infrastructure to collect and disseminate the information is here -- we now have to use it intelligently. It is up to practitioners to write the next chapter.
Brian Baker, Ph.D
CA Certified Organic Farmers
Santa Cruz, CA