The Stakeholders in Pest Management

Stakeholders are individuals and groups of individuals who have a vested interest in a particular issue, cause or enterprise. Their expectations are built on past experiences, assumptions and beliefs and will reflect specific organizational structures (Collins, 1994). Within pest management there are numerous stakeholders who can include, for instance, shareholders, managers, employees, suppliers, customers and communities who are all linked to different degrees to a commercial company that produces a chemical insecticide. The various stakeholders, both between and within groups, can be placed in a hierarchy where the 'stake' each has in the enterprise is similar and influences the stakeholder group in the tiers below it. In pest management the first tier stakeholders tend to be governments and international agencies, the second tier pest management scientists and extensionists, the third commercial companies, the fourth farmers and growers and the fifth tier is the consumers, customers and communities that are the beneficiaries (or otherwise) of the decisions made and implemented by the tiers above. The lower tier stakeholders may also exert some influence over those stakeholders 'above' them. In order to understand pest management, how it has reached where it is today and how to identify where it is going in the future it is necessary to understand something of the motives and interests of each stakeholder group.

1.3.1 Governments, politics and funding agencies

The stakeholders in government need to establish policies that will work to the benefit of all other stakeholders. Since other stakeholders in pest management are so diverse in their interests and needs, governments perform a balancing act, selecting policies that will often reflect a compromise so that no one group of lower tier stakeholders wholly benefits and none lose out completely. Governments are responsi ble for funding public research interests in its institutes and universities; they are also responsible for ensuring that commercial companies generate new products which need to be manufactured, employing people, generating wealth, paying taxes. Governments also need to ensure that food is available at an appropriate price and quality and that the means by which it is generated does not degrade our environment. Hence stakeholders in government seek to look after the interests of farmers, consumers and communities, through funding research and supporting industry where possible.

During the industrialization of agriculture at the end of the 19 th century the government policies sought to provide cheap food for a growing urban population, hence agriculture was targeted for investment and support. However, this process tended to benefit larger farmers through the economies of scale and reduced labour costs from mechanization, at the expense of small holders. The arrival of pesticides was greeted with euphoria since it allowed far more control of the system and assisted the process of agricultural industrialization (Perkins, 1982; Morse and Buhler, 1997). Government policies including tax incentives made the production and use of pesticides attractive to business and farmers. Pesticide development, production and use became institutionalized and farmers became increasingly dependent (Zalom, 1993). For many years after World War II governments needed to demonstrate the availability of surplus food as a political tool. Even though in the late 1950s and early 1960s the problems with pesticides became increasingly apparent, politically agricultural production had to be maintained. Rich farmers, the agrochemical industry and food consumers all wanted the benefits of the system in spite of the public concern over the environmental impact (Morse and Buhler, 1997). The problem for the stakeholders and government was how to maintain production, protect the environment and maintain an economically viable agribusiness sector.

However, with increasingly obvious environmental concerns raised about pesticides, the increased awareness of the general public of these issues, they became politically more important. Hence, a change of policy which allowed for environmental issues to be addressed but that did not impact too heavily on the agribusiness was required. The solution to the problem has been IPM.

1.3.2 The research scientists

The development of an IPM programme requires detailed knowledge of an agro-ecosystem, its component parts and how they interact; pest management is knowledge intensive. Generation of this knowledge is the job of scientists. It has been argued that IPM is the creation of scientists, and it is scientists who have largely controlled its evolution, albeit subject to various pressures (Morse and Buhler, 1997), and hence, the IPM approach should be seen primarily in terms of their desires and agenda.

It has been argued, often with justification, that IPM and research into IPM are not driven by principles but by the need to solve emerging problems. Certainly this would often seem to be the case. IPM was itself developed in response to emerging problems, mainly those associated with the misuse of insecticides, and alternatives and solutions to many pest problems are continually being sought. The principles of IPM are rarely applied because few scientists take on a management programme at the level at which they can be applied. Usually, because of human nature, a failing strategy will not be replaced by a new one (IPM) but different ways of adapting the existing strategy will be tried in order to minimize the extent of the failure. Hence, much of the research in IPM has been a response to a changing problem simply because scientists are usually reluctant to admit failure or to give up on an approach or idea. It is often much easier to advocate the need for a new, 'state of the science' technique with which to shore-up a failing approach, than it is to admit failure and start again.

There is a tendency within IPM to develop and employ control measures that can provide only a short-term solution to the problem. Such measures can work effectively only over a limited time scale because as soon as their use becomes widespread pests will adapt them and render them useless, e.g. prolonged use of a single insecticide, vertical resistance in crop plants and the use of genetically engineered crop plants. All of these examples provide only short-term answers to pest problems, but each also produces a research/development treadmill from which there is no escape. This may provide work for researchers and short-term economic gains for commercial companies, but it does not ultimately solve pest problems, or contribute a great deal to the development of sound insect pest management strategies. Despite this, many techniques gain acceptance within the framework of IPM because each new technique could be claimed to provide another weapon to be added to the pest control armoury. Diversity is fundamental to pest management, hence any technique can be justified and proclaimed under the IPM banner.

Control measures usually pass through a period during which they represent the 'new', 'in vogue' approach. The development of transgenic crop plants is one such example currently receiving a great deal of interest and, of course, funding. While it cannot be denied that transgenic crops will have a major influence on crop protection in the future there is also the serious possibility that insects will quickly develop means of circumventing engineered resistance mechanisms. It should be remembered that we have been through this situation before, where a product held immense promise and received extensive funding, only to find after years of research that the approach was applicable only to certain situations, e.g. male sterile techniques, mass trapping with pheromones, juvenile hormones and monitoring with pheromones.

The changes in seasonal abundance of a pest are easily described but much less easily explained. The research commitment required to describe a process and that necessary to explain it involve different orders of magnitude. Processes that influence population growth are rarely easily explained. Often, the more research that is carried out, the more questions arise, and the complexity of the problem increases. The understanding that is central to the philosophy of IPM necessitates an in-depth enquiry by scientists into the complexities and subtleties of insect biology and ecology. Such studies can easily become further and further removed from the original question that prompted the research. While it is necessary to study a subject in detail in order to understand how it functions, there is a danger that the research can get so far removed from its original objectives that the final results are inapplicable.

In each case, whether there is the need to shore up a failing strategy, the development of new solutions to pest problems (often products for the agribusinesses which are unsustainable when in widespread use), the need for a greater understanding of a particular pest/crop system, it is scientists who benefit, it is science that is required to provide the answers. All this is in the context of a sustained, consistent erosion of the base budget for agricultural research and extension over the last 20 years in the US (Zalom, 1993) and in the UK (Lewis, 1998). Hence, there has been tremendous pressure on research budgets but the public sector scientists have managed to diversify the number of options studied under the umbrella of IPM. The downside has been that with dwindling resources funding agencies at national and international levels have called for collaborative multidisciplinary research programmes where the idea has been to make more effective use of limited resources (Dent, 1992). In doing so, however, sponsors have taken little account of the constraints of the specialist nature of research in relation to developing multidisciplinary programmes, the appraisal and reward systems (Zalom, 1993), organizational struc tures and management systems (Dent, 1995), all of which are geared towards specialism and not interdisciplinary approaches. Despite the obvious role for interdisciplinary research in integrating control measures at a research level the statement made by Pimentel in 1985 still remains largely true today that: 'most remain ad hoc efforts by individual pest control specialists, each developing so-called integrated pest management programmes independently of one another'.

1.3.3 Commercial companies

Commercial enterprises generate income through the provision of services, products or a combination of the two. Within agribusiness there is a greater emphasis on manufacturing and sale of products rather than the service side of the industry. Growers expect to budget for tangible items such as machinery, pesticides and fertilizer but the concept of purchasing, for example advice, is less acceptable (Zalom, 1993). Hence, product inputs tend to dominate agribusiness in general and in pest management control products have gained in importance since the turn of this century. Whereas chemical pesticides were the predominate type of control product in the 1960s, since that time there has been a proliferation of different types of pest management products including: monitoring devices (e.g. insect traps); biopesticides (e.g. Bt); semiochemicals (e.g. for mating disruption); insect parasitoids (e.g. Trichogramma spp.) and predators (e.g. Chrysoperla carnea) and most recently genetically manipulated crop plants (e.g. Bt cotton). All of these products are purchased as off-farm inputs which generate an income for the commercial company and reduce the risk for the farmer. Some products are more successful in this than others so that a number of products service large, generally international markets while others meet the demands for smaller, more local and specific markets. In general, however, commercial companies are searching for products which have a range of characteristics (Box 1.1) that will ensure their uptake and sustained use over many years and provide an adequate return of the investment necessary to develop, produce, market and sell them. Hence, provided a product life cycle is sufficiently long to generate a suitable return on the investment, then a company will have achieved its objective. There is no need for a 'sustainable' product per se; all income generated above the required return is a bonus, which is why the concept of a 'product treadmill' is not such an anathema to the commercial stakeholders, as perhaps it is to others. Commercial companies are not in the business of alleviating the world's pest problems, but rather providing solutions that will generate a viable income and maintain the longer term prospects of the individual companies. The pest control business is worth billions of dollars worldwide each year, its presence influences the whole philosophy of pest management, continually driving for new technologies which can be sold as off-farm inputs, feeding and maintaining the demand for 'its' products. The commercial company stakeholders are major players in pest management affecting agricultural policy, R&D and farmers' expectations and needs. The wealth and taxes, the employment and the assurance they generate provide a powerful incentive for their continued role in the future.

1.3.4 Farmers and growers

Users of insect pest control technologies are not a uniform group. Even among farmers and growers there is a tremendous

Box 1.1. Characteristics of products sought by commercial pest control product companies (from Dent, 1 993).

Commercial value Broad spectrum effects Generally applicable Easily marketable High performance Reliable Visibly effective

Low hazard and/or toxicity to humans diversity, so that pest management means different things to different individuals, farmer groups and communities. The awareness and level of understanding of IPM among growers in the UK differs among the horticultural and agricultural arable sectors (Bradshaw et al., 1996). This is not surprising since IPM has been practised in the horticultural sector for over 20 years, when it was introduced due to problems with insecticide resistance. The same types of problems have not occurred in the agricultural sector and hence IPM has been slower to catch on.

Farmers' objectives may vary. They may, for example, be interested in the maximization of profit or alternatively the minimization of risk (Zadoks, 1991). In subsistence farming food security will be the primary objective whereas reduction of labour may be secondary. In general a hierarchy of objectives may be expected (Norton and Mumford, 1983). A grower's perception of risk can be a function of loan and contractual commitments, which may require them to follow 'prudent' practices to meet yield or quality objectives (van den Bosch, 1978; Zalom, 1993). The practices they adopt for control of insects may also be market driven and if that means reducing pesticide residues through adopting the principles of IPM then this is what the farmers will do. Farmers will adopt practices that are expedient in the face of risk, are available and secure them a satisfactory livelihood.

Farmers have often been viewed as passive recipients of pest management technologies, however, this view is changing and farmers tend now to be seen as an integral part of the pest management stakeholder network, with a role in defining pest control needs, evaluating their effectiveness and influencing their wider adoption. Farmers, more than any other group are sensitive to customer needs and the more competitive and intensive farming becomes the more consumers will dictate the pest control practices adopted by farmers.

1.3.5 Customers and consumers

Consumers in developed countries have increasingly high expectations concerning food quality. It is now unacceptable for insects, their body parts or frass to be found on fresh produce or packaged products. In addition, there is increasing concern about pesticide residues on food despite, paradoxically, the fact that the use of pesticides provided the means by which pest free produce first became possible, and now continues to make high cosmetic standards realizable. High quality standards have largely been imposed by government agencies on producers, processors, packers and retailers in response to consumer concerns (Zalom, 1993). It will be the need to maintain consumer confidence in the food industry that will continue to drive other stakeholders to invest in 'safe' technologies. This approach is being mirrored in developing countries wherever they serve developed country markets that demand high quality standards.

The views of the general public on the perceived environmental hazard posed by some pest control measures, particularly pesticides, continues to have an impact on pest management at all stakeholder levels. The concerns first expressed in Silent Spring have been maintained in the public arena by vociferous groups committed to environmentalism. These groups which initially campaigned successfully to maintain a high profile on the problems with pesticide use are now equally vigilant and vocal concerning the potential hazard posed by genetically manipulated crop plants. Public concern may yet signifi cantly influence the widespread use of these and other novel control measures.

1.3.6 Balancing costs and benefits

Pest management that may be good for individual farmers is not necessarily good for farmers in aggregate, or society at large (Mumford and Norton, 1991). Different conflicts of interest occur between different segments of society and hence value judgements must be made about the relative claims of consumers, farmers, commercial companies and scientists. The responsibility ultimately lies with politicians and hence on political judgements rather than economic, scientific, environmental facts. Policy makers face difficult decisions on what constitutes success in a pest management policy. The traditional view that what is good for individual farmers must be good for society (Perkins, 1982) no longer holds true. The political importance of farmers is waning and that of the consumer increasing. The general public have an increasing scepticism about science and with concern for the environment, food safety and occupational health growing political issues, there will be an increasing number of conflicts of interests between consumers and scientists, agribusiness and farmers. Resolution of these conflicts through the development of acceptable pest management strategies is only likely to occur if the policy makers understand the objectives of each group and can work towards compromise policies that attempt to balance costs and benefits among all stakeholders (Mumford and Norton, 1991).

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