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International news in brief – November/December 2017

| December 19, 2017
  • TZ: Biocontrol program manages Fall Armyworm

A programme developed by Russell IPM has proven to manage Fall Armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) in Tanzania successfully — reducing damage in winter maize to less than 5% compared to pesticides at 25-30%. The research by TPRI, Arusha, Tanzania was conducted in three regions in Tanzania in winter maize crops (June-September). The programme, based on the products Biotrine, Antario and Recharge is the result of years of development by the company. Recent reports from Cameroon came out in line with the Tanzania results confirming that the same sustainable solution can successfully outperform traditional pesticides.

Fall Armyworm larvae

Fall Armyworm larvae seen in Ghana (J. Crozier, CABI)

In addition to developing a pheromone blend necessary to monitor for the pest, trials helped to identify the genotype of the current pest outbreak and its source. Fall Armyworm, is an alien, invasive insect pest, native to the tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas. In 2016 it was detected in African countries: Nigeria, Sao Tomé, Benin and Togo and its presence has been confirmed in Ghana, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Kenya, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. There are preliminary reports of the pest’s sightings elsewhere. (see IPC 59 (4) p232 ‘Fall Armyworms on march across Africa’). Due to the complex nature of the infestations; fast-spreading, high reproductive capacity and wide host range, the pest will likely soon be able to colonize most African countries and pose a greater still impact to these countries’ food security and livelihoods.

“We are very encouraged by the results showing for the first time that a biocontrol program can outperform traditional pesticide use. This provides a sustainable solution to a complex problem threatening food security across Africa.“ said Dr. Nayem Hassan, Head of Research and Development, Russell IPM.

  • UK: CIEH announces winners of Environmental Health Excellence Awards

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) has announced the winners of its Excellence Awards, recognising the originality, creativity, passion and hard work of those in the environmental health sector. CIEH Excellence Awards reward true best practice, highlighting the individuals, organisations and projects that are leading the way in environmental health.

The Awards ceremony showcased the work of environmental health professionals in front of an expert judging panel, with winners being selected from seven categories. The winners were:

Best Environmental Health Project – Wirral Council.

Best Innovative Environmental Health Solution – Wiltshire Counci.l

Outstanding Environmental Health Professional – Wayne Blything (Kick 4 Life).

Outstanding Environmental Health Team – HS2 Local Authority Noise Consortium.

Outstanding Military Environmental Health Professional – Hannah McMorran (The Royal Navy).

Environmental Hero (Air Quality) – Stephen Moore (Cannock Chase District Council).

Rising Environmental Health Star – Jiani Ma (University of Birmingham).

Anne Godfrey, Chief Executive at the CIEH, added “Environmental health professionals are often unseen and unheard, despite doing some of the most important jobs which help businesses grow and improve and protect people’s health, safety and wellbeing. CIEH Awards are presented to those professionals who have really made a positive difference for the benefit of people, communities, and local businesses, and I would like to congratulate all of our winners for their wonderful work.”
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  • UK: One to watch in pest management

Every year in the UK between 500 and 600 people sit pest management exams for the Level 2 RSPH certificate – with Rentokil putting forward up to half of the candidates every year. The highest scorer in this year’s exams was Rentokil employee James McKenna, who was recognised for his achievements at the RSPH Annual General Meeting in London.

Twenty-four-year-old James is certainly one to watch in the future scoring an impressive 95%, 94% and 91% respectively on the three units in the test – the highest in the country! James graduated from the University of Chester with a degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare, and is currently studying for a Masters degree in Environmental Science at the University of the West of England in Bristol. James is currently a Local Technician for Rentokil Pest Control, covering the Bournemouth area.

James applied for a position at Rentokil Initial as he wanted to join a rewarding graduate scheme that would give him the chance to put his degree into practice, and provide him with lots of opportunities for progression. From the day he joined, the company has supported his academic endeavours by sponsoring him for various qualifications and developing his skills through on-the-job training and workshops, helping enhance his career prospects.

  • UK: Sign-up call to rodenticide sellers for point-of-sale audits

British suppliers of professional use rodenticides to pest controllers, farmers and gamekeepers are required to register with BASIS Registration Ltd by the end of December for the new UK Rodenticide Stewardship Regime Point-of-Sale audit process. This requires rodenticide authorisation holders to ensure UK sellers of their professional use products pass the BASIS point of sale audit, and maintain this standard for the future. Audits will be carried out by independent assessors for BASIS. These begin in February and apply to all trade and retail premises, and internet sellers. Initial audits will be completed by 30 November then repeated annually. For sellers already enrolled in the BASIS Stores Inspection scheme, the 2018 cost is £30 per outlet. For rodenticide sellers new to the scheme, the cost per outlet is £176. Failure to comply will result in the seller no longer being allowed to sell professional use rodenticides with effect from the end of 2018. Authorisation holders are ultimately accountable for ensuring that all resellers of professional use rodenticides comply with audit requirements. Failure to do so may result in being reported to Trading Standards and HSE, and may result in restrictions to the authorisations concerned.

The Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use is responsible to HSE as the UK Regulatory Authority for rodenticide stewardship implementation.
For information about the UK Rodenticide Stewardship Regime see

  • USA: USDA to re-engage stakeholders on revisions to biotechnology regulations

The U.S. Department of Agricultures (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has announced it is withdrawing a proposed rule to revise the Agency’s biotechnology regulations and will re-engage with stakeholders to determine the most effective, science-based approach for regulating the products of modern biotechnology while protecting plant health.

“It’s critical that the US regulatory requirements foster public confidence and empower American agriculture while also providing industry with an efficient and transparent review process that does not restrict innovation”, said Secretary Sonny Perdue. “To ensure we effectively balance the two, we need to take a fresh look, explore policy alternatives, and continue the dialogue with all interested stakeholders, both domestic and international.

“Today, we need to feed some 7 billion people. By the year 2050, that population will swell to 9.5 billion, over half of which will be living in under-developed conditions. To put the demand for food into perspective, we are going to have to double our production between now and 2050. We will have to produce more food in the next 30 years than has been produced in the last 8,000 years. Innovations in biotechnology have been helping American farmers produce food more efficiently for more than 20 years, and that framework has been essential to that productivity,” Perdue said. “We know that this technology is evolving every day, and we need regulations and policies that are flexible and adaptable to these innovations to ensure food security for the growing population.”

  • Germany: Bayer agrees to sell selected Crop Science businesses to BASF

Bayer has signed an agreement to sell selected Crop Science businesses to BASF for EUR 5.9 bn subject to regulatory approvals and successfully closing the Monsanto acquisition. The assets include Bayer’s global glufosinate-ammonium business and the related LibertyLink technology for herbicide tolerance, essentially all of the company’s field crop seeds businesses, as well as respective research and development capabilities. The transaction includes the transfer of relevant intellectual property and facilities, as well as more than 1800 employees primarily in the United States, Germany, Brazil, Canada and Belgium. As part of the agreement, BASF has committed to maintain all permanent positions, under similar conditions, for at least three years after closing of the transaction.

  • UK: Added EU protections against Xylella fastidiosa

The European Commission’s Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (SCOPAFF) has approved (Thursday 19 October) increased protections against Xylella fastidiosa. The plant disease has devastated olive plantations in southern Italy and is killing plants and trees in areas across Europe. In September, the UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove wrote to the European Commission stressing that if EU protections were not increased, we would consider national measures, which could include a suspension of high risk imports. The disease, which could be deadly to oak trees, would be difficult to eradicate if it was to arrive, which is why the UK has pushed hard for these increased protections to help keep it out.

The new measures incorporate key proposals from the UK and include strengthened movement requirements on high risk plants and require quicker responses to potential findings of the disease.
The new measures will take effect around the end of November, following a formal adoption process in the European Commission and will supplement measures already in place in the UK which require certain plants to be notified to the plant health authorities when they are brought into the country. This enables the Animal and Plant Health Agency to carry out targeted inspections as well as surveillance for disease in the wider environment.

  • USA: EPA registers the Wolbachia ZAP strain in live male Asian Tiger Mosquitoes

On November 3, 2017, EPA registered a new mosquito biopesticide ZAP Males – that can reduce local populations of the type of mosquito (Aedes albopictus or Asian Tiger Mosquitoes) that can spread numerous diseases of significant human health concern, including the Zika virus. ZAP Males are live male mosquitoes that are infected with the ZAP strain, a particular strain of the “Wolbachia” bacterium. Infected males mate with females, which then produce offspring that do not survive. (Male mosquitoes do not bite people.) With continued releases of the ZAP Males, local Aedes albopictus populations decrease. Wolbachia, are naturally occurring bacteria commonly found in most insect species.

This time-limited registration allows MosquitoMate, Inc. to sell the Wolbachia-infected male mosquitoes for five years in the District of Columbia and the following states: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, and West Virginia. Before the ZAP Males can be used in each of those jurisdictions, it must be registered in the state or district.

When the five-year time limit ends, the registration will expire unless the registrant requests further action from EPA.

  • EU: Priority for new Chairman of Copa and Cogeca Phytosanitary Working Party

A top priority for Luc Peeters from Belgium, re-elected as Chairman of Copa and Cogeca Phytosanitary Questions Working Party, is to make sure that science comes first in EU decisions concerning authorisation of plant protection products (PPPs) on the market and that sufficient supplies of PPPs on the market are secured. Speaking after the vote, Mr Peeters said “A priority for us is about crop protection. We need PPPs to put in farmers tool box to ensure that we have a competitive, sustainable sector capable of meeting growing world food demand. Science must come first”. This was supported by new Vice-Chairman Guy Smith, farmer and Vice-President of the NFU of England and Wales, who said “If we lose key PPPs – glyphosate, neonicotinoid seed treatments- we will lose our competitiveness via a vis non-EU countries. We have strong scientific evidence from both the EU food safety and chemicals agencies (EFSA and ECHA) to support the re-authorization of the widely-used weed killer glyphosate for 15 years as there are no safety concerns.”.

Mr Peeters , manager of the Belgian fruit and vegetable cooperative Belorta drew attention too to the lack of plant protection products for speciality crops and minor uses. “Speciality crops” applies in particular to fruit and vegetables, seeds, flowers and plants amongst others and represent 70 billion euros annually. It is also important that the coordination facility for these crops has sufficient resources.” he stressed.

  • UK: New CRRU study monitors UK barn owl breeding

A new Barn Owl Monitoring Study (BOMS) has been published that tracks barn owl breeding success across five areas of the UK. Funded by the Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use (CRRU), field work by Wildlife Conservation Partnership (WCP) is analysed at the University of Reading.

The purpose is to provide context for the Predatory Birds Monitoring Scheme (PBMS) and tracks liver residues of rodenticides annually in UK barn owls. Results are reported to HSE, which leads the Government Oversight Group for rodenticide stewardship, to assess the effectiveness of the regime.

The BOMS report identifies that barn owl breeding success from 2011 to 2015 showed fluctuations from year to year, probably caused by factors such as mortality of adults between breeding seasons, recruitment of young owls into the breeding population, availability of prey and, overriding these, climatic conditions. Of the five years studied, breeding was lowest in 2013, when only 23 out of 99 nests produced fledglings, and highest the following year when young owls flew from 78 of 121 nests monitored.

The report indicates that 1988 to 2015, reproductive performance in barn owls has not changed much. Although PBMS shows that many barn owls are exposed to rodenticides and BOMS shows that breeding success varies from year to year, co-author Colin Shawyer (WCP) says there has been a substantial increase in barn owl numbers since 1997, when the last comprehensive UK survey showed there to be about 4,000 breeding pairs.
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  • And Finally…USA: Plastic-eating caterpillars could save the planet – or maybe not

In April, a developmental biologist and amateur beekeeper published a possible way to get rid of used plastic bags using larvae of a pest species for beekeepers – the greater wax moth (Galleria mellonella) which normally feed on beeswax. While cleaning out empty hive boxes that were infested with these caterpillars, Federica Bertocchini of the Institute of Biomedicine and Biotechnology of Cantabria in Spain put them in a plastic bag. To her surprise the larvae quickly ate their way out, leaving the bag riddled with holes. The paper reported a decomposition of polyethylene into ethylene glycol, a potential oxidative metabolite, after the treatment of polyethylene bags with caterpillar homogenate. As polyethylene is very hard to break down and we make 80 million tons a year, it is a big recycling challenge.

Researchers at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, have subsequently investigated whether it is actually a matter of a biochemical digestion by enzymes and/or bacteria in the caterpillars’ digestive tract or simply a mechanical milling. In the latter case, the plastic would be excreted chemically unchanged. The new group have demonstrated in simple control experiments which had not been carried out by the Spanish scientists that essential signals of ethylene glycol are missing in the previously published spectra and are instead identical to signals caused by an animal protein-fat mixture, as they would arise from caterpillar residues on the surface. Ah well – back to the drawing board.
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Published in International Pest Control – November/December 2017 issue


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Category: International Pest News, news in brief

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