W3045: Agrochemical Impacts On Human And Environmental Health: Mechanisms And Mitigation

(Multistate Research Project)

Status: Active

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Issue: By the mid-century, the human population is predicted to reach nine billion. While there will be greater pressure to develop sustainable systems, agrochemical use will remain a cornerstone for protecting crop yield and thereby helping to meet demands for increased food production. Inevitably, a portion of the applied agrochemicals may be lost to the surrounding environment potentially adversely affecting human and environmental health. Thus, assuring sustainable crop production systems and human-environmental protection will pose increasingly difficult challenges. To minimize risks to humans and to ecosystems, environmentally sound crop and public health protection will require keen understanding of traditional as well as emerging approaches for the study of fate and effects of agrochemicals along with sound mitigation strategies. For example, research in the areas of targeted pheromone and natural product research will be essential for minimizing chemical resistance while limiting adverse effects on beneficial insects, amphibians, and soil microflora.

Continuation of the W-2045 multistate research project will enable collaborations that go beyond the scope of any individual state AES or USDA-ARS unit for advancing and transferring science to agricultural, regulatory stakeholders, and the public who require solutions to complex human and environmental health concerns.

Justification: Since chartered in 1956, the W-2045 has provided leadership in identifying agrochemical fate, exposure and health effects, characterizing adverse impacts from agrochemical exposure to cells, organisms, and ecosystems, and putting into practice and advancing mitigation technologies that reduce risks to humans and the environment. Today, the work of W-2045 extends well beyond the western region with involvement from a wide assemblage of USDA-ARS and nationwide state AES land-grant university researchers-extension specialists. W-2045 members effectively integrate information across scales ranging from molecular to landscape levels to address the fate and effects of agrochemicals and emerging organic contaminants in/on human, animal and environmental health. The ability to cross disciplinary boundaries and to adapt different measurement and modeling tools to address complex emerging environmental problems remains essential for improved risk management and risk communication. Cooperating W-2045 researchers represent an array of aligned disciplines in basic and applied biology, toxicology, environmental chemistry, engineering, risk assessment, outreach, and education to address current and emerging human-environmental agrochemical health issues. USDA-ARS facilities in MN, MD and SD and state land grant AES colleges and their affiliate institutions span over the west (AZ, CA, HI, MT, NM, NV, OR, WA), Great Plains (KS), Midwest (IA, IN, MI, MN, OH), east (NY), and southern states (FL, LA). W-2045 research and extension crosses disciplinary boundaries providing key information to state and national public-environmental health regulatory agencies, soil conservation districts, regional agricultural commodity groups, and agrochemical users. The depth of knowledge and strong collaborations among state AES and USDA-ARS scientists provide a unique amalgamation of research and extension capabilities. This on-going collaboration will remain vital to address existing and emerging challenges for characterizing the impact and devising appropriate mitigations for pesticides and other agrochemicals that are for and from agriculture. The emerging challenges in crop protection will require a broader array of genetic tools for investigating more subtle tropic interactions that can have adverse impacts at the organism, population, community, and ecosystem level. W-2045 membership will continue to include researchers investigating emerging issues who will be needed to develop technologies for future agricultural pest control needs.

The value of W-2045 membership is strongly evident today at the national and international levels. W-2045 members from USDA-ARS (MD) and UC-Riverside AES respectively chaired and co-chaired the 2014 International Congress of Pesticide Chemistry (IUPAC) scientific program activities with program support from many W-2045 members. Collaborations built in W-2045 have continually strengthened state AES and ARS involvement in the American Chemical Society Agrochemical Division (AGRO). W-2045 members from ARS MD, UC-Riverside AES, ARS ND, NV AES, MN ARS, MS AES, OR AES, and WA AES serve in official capacities or on executive committees. It is worthy to note, three W-2045 extension specialists and researchers have been recently distinguished as Fellows in the ACS AGRO. As important, a very high percent of ACS AGRO graduate research awards (40% in 2012 alone) came from W-2045 project members in areas of proteomic/bioavailability modeling to land-scale native grass phytoremediation simulations of herbicide runoff. W-2045 OR AES scientists also provide outreach to the public through toll-free and web-based services from the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC). This information center provides objective, science-based information about pesticides pesticide poisonings, toxicology, and environmental chemistry that enable people to make informed decisions. TOXicology NETwork (EXTOXNET) also housed at Oregon State University remains among one of the most widely used internet sites for those seeking technical information on pesticides and household chemicals. Members also work closely with industry and non-profit associations impacted by agrochemical use such as the US Composting Council, state agricultural crop and animal commissions and commodity groups. In summary, the collaborative and multidisciplinary activities of W-2045 have been singularly effective in communicating to other researchers, governmental agencies, industry, non-profits and the public about the potential impacts of agrochemicals and ideas for mitigation.
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