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Anniversary message from Acting Administrator Edward
B. Knipling. Go.
50th anniversary web
USDA Agricultural Research Agency Turns
50 By Kim
November 3, 2003
WASHINGTON, Nov. 3The
Agricultural Research Service, chief
scientific research agency of the U.S.
Department of Agriculture, marks its 50th anniversary today.
ARS' accomplishments during the past half century include
development of the leading mosquito repellent, development of vaccines to
protect chickens against economically devastating diseases, creation of a key
equation to reduce soil erosion, and the discovery of two new forms of
life--viroids and spiroplasmas. Viroids are strands of ribonucleic acid (RNA)
that can cause disease in plants and crops; spiroplasmas, which also are
responsible for many plant diseases, are life forms with no cell wall and one
of the smallest genomes of any living organism.
Today, ARS is the largest agricultural science agency of its
kind in the world, with more than 2,100 scientists conducting research at about
100 locations across the country and overseas.
ARS scientists constructed the first gene maps of cattle,
discovered that boron is an essential trace nutrient for humans, helped triple
milk production per cow, and eliminated the screwworm from the United States
and other countries.
"ARS has had many specific accomplishments that have been
critical to the continued vitality of American agriculture," said Edward B.
Knipling, acting ARS administrator. "But the agency's work as a whole is an
essential part of the long research continuum that allows us to improve our
stewardship of the environment, while making our food and agricultural products
more affordable, safer and more abundant."
In celebration of its anniversary, ARS will host numerous
special events over the coming year, including a recognition ceremony at USDA
headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 11, a National Scientific Leadership
Meeting in New Orleans in January 2004, and open houses and field days at its
ARS has conducted research in every facet of agriculture,
responding quickly to new problems as they arise, carrying out long-term
research beyond the scope of commercial businesses, providing research support
to USDA action and regulatory agencies, and helping to improve the quality of
life for rural communities.
While ARS was officially created in 1953, the agency has deep
roots that go back more than a century. When Abraham Lincoln created USDA in
1862, the founding legislation called for the new department to acquire "useful
information connected with agriculture in the most general and comprehensive
Within four years, a Division of Botany was created, soon
followed by the Division of Microscopy and, in 1873, the Bureau of Animal
Industry and other scientific units. Many of these were merged in 1953 to form
the core of today's ARS.
For the modern ARS, the mission goes beyond improving
agricultural production. ARS research also helps develop agricultural
commodities into new biobased products such as biodiesel fuel made from
soybeans that can power cars, buses, planes and heating plants. Such advances
benefit the farmer, the consumer and the environment.
information about ARS's research milestones can be found in the November
issue of Agricultural Research magazine.