STONEVILLE, Miss., March 31--The U.S. Department of Agriculture today dedicated a new research facility here where scientists will develop methods for producing, storing and using beneficial organisms to control agricultural and urban pests.
"This new facility will help lead the way in developing new beneficial organisms to help combat agricultural and urban pests, and reduce our reliance on chemical pesticides," said Agriculture Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics Joseph Jen.
The new National Biological Control Laboratory (NBCL) is part of the Jamie Whitten Delta States Research Center, operated by USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS). Research at the facility will focus on developing beneficial predators, parasites and microbes to control pests.
Sen. Thad Cochran was the keynote speaker. Other participants in the dedication ceremony included Rep. Bennie Thompson, Jen, and ARS Administrator Edward B. Knipling.
The 55,000-square-foot facility, constructed at a cost of about $16.5 million, accommodates 50 scientists and their support personnel. It is uniquely designed to facilitate interaction among scientists from numerous disciplines in basic and applied research. NBCL is the first facility in the world to have such a wide combination of scientific specializations for fully integrated research in biological control technology.
NBCL has one wing reserved for microorganisms such as fungi or bacteria and another for macroorganisms such as insects. The lab's wings are designed to prevent accidental release of these organisms. Additional space is provided for two pilot plants where scientists can cooperate with public and private organizations to test the practical applications of rearing techniques and foster commercial production, especially with small, start-up companies.
Only beneficial organisms that have been approved for release in the United States by federal and state officials will be propagated and studied there.