Submitted to: Biological Control of Invasive Plants in the United States
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/1/2003
Publication Date: 9/1/2004
Citation: Balciunas, J.K., Coombs, E., 2004. International code of best practices for classical biological control of weeds. In: Biological Control of Invasive Plants in the US. 1st edition. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University Press. p.130-136. Interpretive Summary: The practice and theory of biological control is coming under increasing scrutiny and criticism, not only from members of the public, but also from concerned ecologists and entomologists. Many of the criticisms leveled against biological control in general, do not apply to the subdiscipline of classical biological control of weeds, which without doubt, has the best record for safety and ecological responsibility. This does not mean, however, that all of the criticisms lack merit, and that we need not make any modifications in our strategies and procedures. The twelve guidelines in the "International Code of Best Practices for Classical Biological Control of Weeds", if strictly adhered to, will assure that this subdiscipline is driven by the latest scientific information, is responsive to user groups and concerned ecologists, as well as the public. As the guidelines in this Code of Best Practices become widely adopted by those involved in classical biological control of weeds, this subdiscipline should receive increased support and endorsement from a wide array of ecologists, as well as administrators, politicians and the general public.
Technical Abstract: Classical biological control of weeds is an ecologically sound, and frequently, highly desirable approach to controlling certain exotic weeds. But it is an extremely powerful tool, and every practitioner must keep in mind that the release of even the safest organism is attended by a small, but not inconsequential, risk for causing harm. Although these risks cannot be eliminated, we should all strive to minimize them. As a step in this direction, at the "X Symposium for Biological Control of Weeds", I presented a set of ten guidelines, assembled as a 'Code of Best Practices', that should help make classical biological control of weeds not only safer, but more effective. A panel was convened during the Symposium to review and modify my suggested 'Code'. This resulted in twelve guidelines covering the classical biocontrol of weed process from target selection, through post-release evaluation. Most of the guidelines apply not only to the introduction of new overseas agents, but also to the redistribution of established agents. This 'International Code of Best Practices' was overwhelmingly adopted by a vote of the Symposium participants. In this book chapter, I review the need for the code, and then present each of the 12 guidelines, their meaning, and their potential impact, especially for those involved in redistributing approved agents. Practitioners of other subdisciplines of biological control, such as those importing and releasing parasitoids of insect pests, should consider creating and adopting a similar 'Code of Best Practices'.