To download a PDF version of the NP 308 Executive Summary of the Assessment Report, please click here (192 KB).
National Program 308 – Methyl Bromide Alternatives
A panel of five met by a conference call hosted in Beltsville, MD October 18-19, 2011 to conduct a 5-year retrospective review of USDA-ARS National Program 308 (Methyl Bromide Alternatives). NP 308 was formed as a response to the US becoming signatory to the Montreal Protocol and the resulting need to phase out methyl bromide in a relatively short time frame. The review was meant to be an overarching one rather than a project-by-project review that is regularly conducted by the Office of Scientific Quality Review. The panel was provided with a retrospective Accomplishment Report (2006-2011) that focused on the overall impacts of selected projects within the national program. In addition, panelists were able to draw on other resources including publications, databases and their professional knowledge of the research areas within NP 308. The panel was also given a brief overview of NP 308 by USDA-ARS leadership (Dr. Kay Simmons, Deputy Administrator, Crop Production and Protection; Dr. Sally Schneider, National Program Leader, Postharvest Entomology; Dr. Deb Fravel, National Program Leader, Plant Diseases; Dr. John Lydon, National Program Leader, Crop Protection and Quarantine) prior to its deliberations.
The panelists would like to thank ARS Program Staff including Tracy L. Botelho-Havermann and Stephanie Young for their assistance during the review process.
The NP 308 panel was:
Dr. James D. Schaub, Office of the Chief Economist, USDA, Panel Chair
Dr. Paul Fields, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Mr. Gary L. Obenauf, Agricultural Research Consulting
Dr. Stanley Culpepper, University of Georgia
Mr. Brian Correiar, Golden State Bulb Growers, Inc.
The Accomplishment Report of NP 308 was developed by the national program leadership staff based on impact statements submitted by ARS scientists. The panel assessed these accomplishments against commitments (goals and objectives) identified in the action plan created at the beginning of the five year cycle. Based on this assessment and review, the panel reached a consensus rating for each of the problem areas defined in NP 308. For operational purposes, the panel translated the goals and commitments in the action plan to the following assessment criteria:
· Knowledge building and innovation
· Pursuit of environmentally sound and safe solutions
· Outreach, communication, and dissemination of information
· Efficacy of identified alternatives
· Economic feasibility and commercial adoption
· Contribution to Sustainability (where appropriate)
The panel rated each of the seven problem areas spanning the two major components. In the case of Pre-plant Component Problem Statement 1D, Lack of Commercial Scale Demonstrations of the Technical and Economic Feasibility of Currently Available Alternatives, the panel chose to rate the area-wide portion separately from the other efforts. The objective was to clearly communicate the High Impact rating merited by the area-wide effort. Ratings for the program elements ranged from Medium Impact to High Impact with the majority of the problem area efforts including all of the postharvest problem areas rated High. No problem area was rated Low because in all cases the mass of activity warranted a medium or better rating. The panel looked beyond the number of projects and accomplishment statements provided in the accomplishment report, focusing on what was achieved and how well the objectives of the action plan were satisfied. Overall the 2006 – 2011 accomplishments map well to the commitments and outcomes established in the NP 308 Action Plan.
Across NP 308 the panel found effective collaboration with private and public sector scientists. Outreach and dissemination of research finding followed many channels to reach relevant stakeholders and add to the accessible body of knowledge on direct methyl bromide alternatives and foundational knowledge for future research. The panel noted that some agricultural stakeholders receiving valuable information through secondary sources do not fully appreciate that the ARS NP 308 research underlies the information.
The program focuses on an urgent need for methyl bromide alternatives in the food and agricultural sector to curtail harm to the environment and human health. Accomplishments in the program show effort to identify environmentally sound and sustainable alternatives. A number of accomplishments involve refinement of practices and new technologies and knowledge that are simultaneously environmentally sound and cost saving.
The panel did not consider the resources used in NP 308 focusing instead on outcomes. The breadth and depth of accomplishments under NP 308 is impressive. Thus, over the last five years NP 308 has delivered a comprehensive program of research which in some cases resulted in immediate high impacts while others parts of the program are expected to have near term impacts. Accomplishments that contribute to new scientific knowledge of agricultural pests may ultimately have an impact. In conclusion, the assessment finds NP 308 generally met its goals and commitments and in most cases has had or displays significant potential to have high impacts on the food and agricultural sectors that need for methyl bromide alternatives.