Note: This information is provided for reference purposes only. Although the information provided here was accurate and current when first created, it is now outdated.
USDA's IR-4 Minor Use Program
Interregional Research Project No. 4 (IR-4 Project) was organized in 1963 by Directors of the State Agricultural Experiment Stations to obtain clearances for minor use pest control products on food crops where economic considerations preclude private sector involvement. Since its inception, IR-4 has been administered by USDA-CSREES. In 1976, USDA-ARS established a companion minor use program to provide further support for the minor use effort. The objectives of the IR-4 Project were expanded in 1977 to include the registration of pest control products for the protection of nursery and floral crops, forest seedlings and turf grass; and again in 1982 to include the registration of biological pest control agents (biopesticides) for agricultural pest control. IR-4 is the only public effort supporting the registration of pesticides and biological pest control agents on minor crops. The program has been responsible for data to support 4598 food use clearances, 4647 ornamental registrations and has sponsored research on 41 biopesticides resulting in exemptions for 18 products on 56 crops.
Pesticide Registration: While the basic mission continues to be that of assisting minor crop producers obtain properly labelled crop protection products, the scope of the program has enlarged over the years. FIFRA 88 presented IR-4 with the challenge of defending needed existing pesticide registrations where industry could not do so because of economic disincentives. IR-4 developed a Strategic Plan to carry out the minor crop reregistration task and successfully defended nearly 700 minor crop registrations.
New challenges have been presented to both IR-4 and minor crop producers with the passage of the 1996 Food Quality Protection Act. While the continued availability of many pesticides is unclear, it is generally agreed that FQPA may have a negative effect on pest management options for minor crops. IR-4 has developed a response strategy to move aggressively to promote safer pest management on minor crops by accelerating the registration of reduced risk pesticides, biopesticides and products important to integrated pest management systems. EPA gives priority to IR-4 applications in the review process.
Biopesticides: The IR-4 Biopesticides program is an important element of the IR-4 strategy to develop safer pest management for minor crops. Biopesticides, including microbials, biochemicals and genetically transformed plants and microbes, hold great potential for general and nitch pest control on high value minor crops. IR-4 has earmarked funds for biopesticide research and registrations and is leveraging these funds through cooperative research with venture capital biotechnology companies and public sector researchers.
Ornamentals: Research to develop registration data for new pest control products on ornamental crops has been a successful component of the IR-4 program. Clearly, any FQPA actions that decrease the availability of pesticides for food crops will similarly diminish pest control options for ornamentals. The IR-4 safer pest management strategy reinforces the existing ornamental program research goals for developing pest management practices that are worker friendly, adaptable to existing cultural practices and effective in IPM programs.
Future Directions: The IR-4 Project is committed to a FQPA response strategy that will assure continued effective pest management for minor crops. The Project has embarked on an aggressive program to seek low risk alternatives to existing pesticides that are used on minor food and ornamental crops and to expedite their registration. The goal of this strategic plan is to insure that all producers of minor crops have available products that represent a reduced risk to the user, the consumer and the environment.
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updated May 22, 1998