Natural products offer a vast, virtually untapped reservoir of chemical compounds with many potential uses. One of these uses is in agriculture to manage pests with less risk than with synthetic compounds that are toxicologically and environmentally undesirable. The National Center for Natural Products Research (NCNPR) offers ARS the opportunity to leverage and focus its resources in the area of natural products for agriculture. Finding the appropriate use for a natural product is extremely difficult without a broad array of scientists who can search for many potential uses. Many of the compounds that NCNPR has isolated could be valuable agricultural chemicals. The assets of both ARS and NCNPR are leveraged to greatly increase the probability of discoveries that will impact agriculture. Furthermore, ARS expertise is useful in the development of pharmaceuticals from plant resources, creating alternative crops for small farms.
The mission of the Natural Products Utilization Research Unit is to develop natural products for uses in agriculture in order to produce more toxicologically benign pest management tools and to improve the nutriceutical value of crops.A secondary mission is to do fundamental research to aid in the development of alternative crops for production of pharmaceuticals and botanical supplements.