Keith Cressman's Comment

We welcome UCR's initiative of attracting the attention of scientists in terms of thinking of new biotechnology tools for locust control. We encourage new thinking and approaches in this field while, at the same time, it is not the only area ofpertinence regarding the management of Desert Locust populations. Too often, we have noted that previous research has concentrated on finding the product to end all control products when in fact, the currently available products are very effective in killing Desert Locust. Yes, more environmentally friendly products are desirable and here Green Muscle shows promise. However, we are still faced with some significant challenges that go beyond the composition of control products.

For example, one of the primary difficulties of Desert Locust control is knowing where the infestations are, their extent and which ones to treat. For example, it is relatively easy to know what insects are on a farmer's field and where. It is also rather straightforward to determine which farms may require treatment and which do not. This ease can be attributed to thesedentary nature and seasonality of most pests, and their occurrence in relatively well populated areas. Desert Locust do not subscribe to either of these factors. The can easily migrate 1000 kilometers in a week, they can ravage one field while leaving another adjacent one untouched, and they are present in some of the most arid and remote areas in many of the poorest countries of Africa and Asia.

Our current methodologies and tools are insufficient in determining with any precision the scale of a "Desert Locust problem" that may require control. Without knowing how big the problem is, it is very difficult to deal with it in a sensible and effective manner. Too often, field teams will stop and control the first Desert Locust hopper band or swarm that they come across, having no idea if that represents 90 percent of the infestations or 0.9 percent.

Perhaps research efforts in this direction, coupled with those that you mentioned, could go a long way in improving the management and control of Desert Locust.

Keith Cressman
Locust Forecasting Officer
FAO Locust Group, Rome
Tel: +39 06 57052420