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By Matt Hayes
  • Cornell AgriTech
  • Department of Global Development
  • Development
  • Entomology
International professor of entomology Anthony Shelton has been named the winner of the 2021 Lifetime Achievement in Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

The Lifetime Achievement Award honors an individual who has devoted their career to IPM. Shelton was recognized for significant contributions to enhancing IPM through team building with various stakeholder groups, and addressing issues across pests, commodities, systems and disciplines.

Shelton will receive the award and deliver the closing plenary address at the 10th International IPM Symposium to be held February 28 - March 3, 2022 in Denver, Colorado. 

During his more than 40-year career, Shelton has delivered invaluable insights across a variety of crops, pests and tactics. His research has focused on potatoes, crucifers, sweet corn, onions and eggplant in the U.S. and around the world.  

“I am honored to receive this award which recognizes the importance of the concept and practices of IPM. As a graduate student at UC Riverside, I knew Vern Stern who, along with his California colleagues, first described the concept of IPM in 1959,” Shelton said.

“It is heartening to know that what was seen then as a radical idea, is now mainstream and contributes greatly to economic and environmental sustainability.”

Steven E. Naranjo, center director and supervisory research entomologist at USDA-ARS, credited Shelton for his domestic and international work and enduring commitment to improving lives.

“As an applied ecologist and IPM specialist within a Land Grant University, Shelton firmly believes he is obligated to work for the public good, both domestically and internationally,” Naranjo said. “It is rare for someone at a university who has many other obligations  — research, teaching, administration, and more — to have been able to develop successful domestic and international IPM programs. Shelton has done both with excellence.”

That public good, according to Naranjo, includes improving agriculture by making it more sustainable, more profitable for producers, and with enhanced benefits for consumers and the environment.

During his career, Shelton developed research and extension programs that use sound insect management strategies for vegetables, with spin-offs for many others crops. His program has focused in basic and applied research on a diverse set of insects affecting important food crops within a foundation of broad ecological principles. His approach has been to integrate available tactics into comprehensive IPM programs, and to develop new strategies for the future.

Shelton has been a pioneer in using genetic engineering to combat pests. In 1999, he worked with colleagues at the Boyce Thompson Institute to conduct the first field release of a genetically engineered virus for insect control. In 2017, in cooperation with colleagues at England-based Oxitec, he conducted the first release of a genetically engineering agricultural insect pest with a self-limiting gene to control the spread of the diamondback moth. That release in fields at Cornell AgriTech in Geneva, New York demonstrated the efficacy and safety of the approach.

Since 2005, Shelton has been involved with the introduction of insect-resistant (Bt) eggplant in Bangladesh, the Philipppines and India and, from 2015-2020, served as director of the Feed the Future South Asia Eggplant Improvement Partnership funded by USAID and based in Cornell’s Department of Global Development. Starting with an initial 20 farmers in 2014, Bt eggplant is now grown by more than 30,000 farmers in Bangladesh where it provides complete control of the eggplant fruit and shoot borer, the main pest of eggplant. A recent study confirmed that Bt eggplant dramatically reduces the use of insecticides, and that growers receive an average of 19.6% higher yield and 21.7% higher revenue compared to non-Bt varieties. The additional revenue per hectare is the equivalent of around $664, a substantial income boost for resource-poor farmers in Bangladesh. Furthermore, the study confirmed that Bt eggplant is accepted in the market.

As a mentor, Shelton has served as the major professor for 19 students, a committee member for another 21 students and as a mentor to a diverse set of 47 postdocs and visiting scientists. He has collaborated with close colleagues at institutions in North America, China, India, Bangladesh, Australia, New Zealand and across Europe.

The IPM Achievement Awards are one of the highlights of the International IPM Symposium, a premier global event held every three years, attended by IPM researchers, advocates and practitioners from around the world. The theme for the 10th International IPM Symposium to be held in 2022 will be Implementing IPM across Borders and Disciplines.

Lynn Braband, senior extension associate at Cornell's New York State IPM Program, will receive the International IPM Award of Recognition. A full list of award winners are available online.

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