In mid-November, the topics of conversation in St Louis, Missouri were around all things that creep, crawl, fly and buzz: or in other words, insects. The 67th Annual Meeting of the Entomological Society of America (ESA), attracted delegates from around the world. This year, there was a strong focus not only on the progress that has been made to address some of the complex pest problems seen globally but also how to increase outreach to a wider audience through social media, for example, to share knowledge, encourage others to act and, also, to change public perceptions about insects. The event’s theme “Advocate Entomology!” depicted this well: after all, while insects, like bees or butterflies, and related arthropods, such as spiders, are important for every single human on the planet as they enable us to live, we also need more research and understanding of many other insects that are hazardous and destructive, or that spread disease, like mosquitoes.
Insect pollinators were a topic throughout the event; not surprisingly, considering the importance of pollination for agriculture and, thereby, for our fruit and vegetable production. The estimated annual value to the global economy of 235 to 577 billion USD (IPBES Report 2016) indicates just how important insect pollination is to modern agriculture. Although many of the crops providing most of our staple foods (e.g. cereals, maize, rice, potatoes) are not pollinated by insects, the yields of many other crops are dependent, at least to some extent, on pollination by insects or are improved by it (e.g. strawberries, almonds, apples and melon). Researchers and colleagues from Bayer joined the event to learn from the experts and exchange on the important topic of pollination and honey bee and other insect pollinator health and safety topics. Christian Maus, Global Regulatory Scientific Affairs at Bayer Crop Science, summed it up nicely “An impressive event, with thousands of entomologists from a variety of countries attending. The direct exchange with scientists from across the globe is always very valuable for us. And I am amazed to see how the great results from the work of many Bayer researchers are contributing to the scientific discussion in lots of presentations on various topics.”
Ralf Nauen from Bayer presented key research findings during different sessions and joined the panel discussion on “Cross-Pollination across Sectors” at the meeting
Dick Rogers, Principal Scientist and Entomologist in Regulatory Scientific Affairs, based at Bayer’s Chesterfield Research site in St Louis who also attended the event, added “The pollinator talks were my main area of interest and I was impressed by the quality and quantity of speakers and topics. There were numerous talks related to nutrition for honey bees, especially micronutrients. This is an important area that deserves the attention it is now getting. Also, the parasitic bee mites, Acarapis spp. are being discussed because there is concern that they may be increasing in prevalence again.”
As one of the main congress sponsors, Bayer researchers participated in several of the sessions, sharing their research learnings and results with the other delegates and took the opportunity the event presented to participate at some of the discussion sessions. One of these was Maryam Sultan, Pollinator Safety Expert, based in Germany, who noted, “The conference itself was a great opportunity to network and learn about a variety of topics pertaining to entomology. I especially enjoyed the panel discussion of the PBT Section Symposium: Cross-Pollination across Sectors: A forum on pollinator health and safety which was organized by our colleagues Dan Schmehl and Katherine Karberg as well as Reed Johnson (Ohio State University) and Sarah Wood (University of Saskatchewan) and which focused on collaboration and transparency in research. The panel consisted of researchers from academia (Julia Fine of University of Illinois, Reed Johnson of Ohio State University, Niranjana Krishnan of Iowa State University, Sarah Wood of University of Saskatchewan), industry (Ralf Nauen from Bayer, Allen Olmstead from BASF, Dan Schmehl from Bayer), NGOs (Wendy Caldwell of the Monarch Joint Venture) and regulatory agencies (Cameron Douglass of the US EPA).” Bayer also provided the opportunity for interested delegates to take a tour around the company’s Crop Science Research and Development Center at St. Louis.
During the annual meeting, interested delegates could also take a tour around the Bayer Crop Science Research and Development Center at St. Louis.
The congress resonates well with our belief that broad cooperation is essential to develop better concepts to enhance pollinator health worldwide. Through collaboration on pollinator health topics, we work together with local country experts on concrete, specific projects in the area of ecology, honey bee health or pollination. Sustainable agriculture is one of the focus areas of our activities, as we believe that crop protection and pollinator protection must go hand in hand to ensure enough quality food. Bayer is committed to finding even better concepts to enhance pollinator health worldwide – approaches of benefit to beneficial insects, human beings and the environment.
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