How IPM Works as Risk Management
According to the Insurance Information Institute, risk management involves "taking steps to minimize the likelihood of things going wrong." Risk management is different from insurance, however. For example, a farmer may purchase insurance to reduce the financial impact of adverse events on her operations—such as too little rain, flooding, or crop failure. The first step to manage actual risks, the Institute would say, is for the farmer to identify and understand the risks her organization faces.
Pest damage is certainly one of those risks any farmer faces. And pests cause harm not only on farms, but in schools, places of business, and in homes.
This is where IPM—integrated pest management—comes in, as a form of risk management. In this sense, IPM is the practice of taking steps to minimize pest populations, damage from pests, or harm from pest control methods—truly preventing losses.
IPM works as risk management in numerous ways. For example:
EPA regularly collects information to reach a risk-management decision for pesticides, say, imidacloprid or clothianidin. They gather details about usage, application rates, methods, and timing. They record key pests the materials are used to manage, and likely alternatives for managing them. They document the costs of switching to alternative pest control methods, including information on potential impacts to yield or quality. This information ultimately informs the policy that protects our food system and citizens.
To understand how this plays out in real-world practice, consider the following. In the fall of 2017, after the EPA said it wouldn't further restrict the pesticide chlorpyrifos, California recently said it may. The Department of Pesticide Regulation released an updated draft risk assessment for public comment, the start of a public and scientific review which could lead to increased restrictions on chlorpyrifos statewide.
IPM can reduce actual health risks—not just the financial effects of risks after a loss. IPM is being used by mosquito abatement districts to protect citizens from a long list of mosquito-borne illnesses and pathogens such as Zika and West Nile Virus.
"All three [mosquito abatement districts studied in California] use IPM to protect citizens from mosquitoes, limit exposure to chemical control agents and achieve both goals with limited funding.? It's absolutely an IPM success story," said Matt Baur, the Western IPM Center associate director.
In short, IPM is the practice of taking steps to minimize risks associated with pests and pest control practices. IPM brings benefits not only on farms, but in schools, places of business, and in homes. This practice benefits human health, the economic bottom line, and the environment.