Submitted to: Entomological Society of America Annual Meeting
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: June 12, 2008
Publication Date: December 12, 2010
Citation: Smith, L. 2010. Challenges to obtaining APHIS approval to release classical biological control agents of weeds: the case of the yellow starthistle rosette weevil (Ceratapion basicorne). Entomological Society of America Annual Meeting. [abstract]. Technical Abstract: The safety and effectiveness of classical biological control of weeds depends on the discovery and evaluation of species of arthropods that are highly host specific. Host specificity is typically evaluated using a combination of no-choice, choice and field experiments. The Technical Advisory Group (TAG), which has representatives from various federal agencies, Canada, Mexico and other stakeholder groups, reviews this scientific information which is submitted in the form of a "petition". Guidelines for evaluation of prospective agents are published in the "Reviewer's Manual for the Technical Advisory Group for Biological Control Agents of Weeds", developed by APHIS in 1998. The yellow starthistle rosette weevil, Ceratapion basicorne, can develop on safflower under no-choice conditions, but it does not prefer this plant in choice experiments and did not attack the plant in field experiments. TAG recommended approval of this insect in 2006, but APHIS denied a release permit in 2009. Differences between the TAG recommendation and the APHIS decision suggest different approaches to the interpretation of results from no-choice, choice and field experiments, which may affect the feasibility of obtaining permits for many other prospective agents of weeds.