Location: Sustainable Perennial Crops LaboratoryTitle: International Entomology Author
Submitted to: American Entomologist
Publication Type: Literature Review
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/6/2012
Publication Date: 2/1/2012
Citation: Bourtzis, K., Crook, S., Daffonchio, D., Durvasula, R., Hanboonsong, Y., Infante, F., Lacava, F., Miller, T.A., Vega, F.E. 2012. International Entomology. American Entomologist. 58:234-246. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: Pests and diseases of plants in agriculture are a shared international problem. Yet some of the very places that pest invaders come from often lack the institutional structure and organization necessary to help in understanding the biology of the pest or disease. Strengthening entomology by stimulating international collaboration would multiply the hands and minds applied to finding solutions to emerging global problems, such as food security. When a new pest invades locally it helps to learn as much about the pest at the remote point of origin as possible to facilitate control; this is the essence of and the very reason for a strong international entomology. The tools available to deal with pests or plant diseases have not changed much in the last 60 years except to add biotechnology, which means transgenic plants to carry insect resistance factors or more recently targeting selective genes using the RNAi technique, with the delivery mechanism a work in progress. But even these new tools are hampered by apparent lack of public acceptance and outright hostility from organic growers. International entomology could be strengthened in its quest to deal with pests and diseases by fostering connections and interactions more often than every four years at the International Congress of Entomology. One way to do this is, for example, to maintain a list of experts in various pests and diseases who might participate in foreign projects as consultants if not host laboratories for advanced training of foreign nationals. Training of graduate students remains the least expensive and best long-term method of dealing with pest problems. Global Knowledge Initiative (GKI), a non-profit organization based in Washington DC, is currently attempting to facilitate just this with a pilot program in Rwanda, called Potato Taste Challenge. GKI organized an effort to determine the microbial source of the odor and taste defect of Arabica coffee thought to gain access through feeding by a stink bug of the genus Antestiopsis; to determine the ecological conditions supporting potato taste and establish funding for training of plant protection specialists from Rwanda that would increase the research and infrastructure to support agriculture there. A side benefit from this increased infrastructure and expertise in Rwanda would put in place resources to help learn more about another coffee pest, the coffee berry borer (CBB). While Antestiopsis is a regional problem and potato taste is also confined to East Africa, CBB has spread to most coffee growing areas of the world. There are no fully effective control remedies. Coffee (and tea) export represents a significant portion of foreign exchange in Rwanda, so it is easy to appreciate the urgency associated with protecting that crop in that country; however, that is only one example of thousands that challenge countries and threaten global food security.