is a historical overview of the International Research Program Unit's
role in vertebrate pest damage management that also examines concurrent
events in the world and the United States. Future features will explore
in depth different aspects of the contributions of this unique international
The International Program Research Unit (IPRU) of the U.S. Dept. of
Agriculture’s National Wildlife Research Center (formerly the
U. S. Dept. of Interior, Denver Wildlife Research Center until 1995)
used its expertise around the world to control vertebrate pest damage
to crops and livestock. Center employees provided problem definition,
technical assistance, program development, and training to several thousand
individuals in over ninety-five countries of the world. Working in many
countries of Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and Latin America, from 1967
to 1995, Center scientists attempted to assist developing countries
in finding new and/or improved methods and strategies to deal with vertebrate
pests in order to increase agricultural output.
Charged with the mission of helping to reduce agriculture losses by
vertebrate pests that adversely affected agriculture in impoverished
and developing countries, the IPRU tried to bring agricultural sustainability
to subsistence farmers. Bats, rats, and birds cost millions of dollars
in damage and losses to these already poor countries.
For example, the quelea bird devastated African crops, rats destroyed
rice in Asia, and vampire bats infected cattle with rabies in Latin
Scientists from the National Wildlife Research Center (NWRC) concentrated
on assisting and working cooperatively in predominantly developing countries
to improve agricultural conditions. This work was conducted at the Center's
headquarters in Colorado and at various field stations around the world.
The Center had multi-year field stations in Mexico, Bangladesh, Haiti/Dominican
Republic, the Philippines, Pakistan, Sudan, Tanzania, Morocco, Chad,
and Colombia. Extensive work also was undertaken and completed through
short term technical outreach assistance, training, and program development
in many other countries.
The Center’s international assistance efforts began and matured
during two major time periods in world history: the Cold War and the
Green Revolution. The Cold War ran from roughly 1950 to the early 1990s,
and while difficult to precisely define, refers to an era in which there
was a tense, dangerous rivalry between the United States and the Soviet
Union that began after the two former World War II allies parted ways
over ideological differences. The Green Revolution ran from about 1960
to 1990, and generally related to the significant yield transformation
of several basic cereal crops, including rice and wheat, in the developing
countries of the world. Agricultural technical innovations from this
time period include the development and commercialization of high-yield
seeds, the increased application of pesticides and herbicides, and the
widespread use of irrigation techniques and modern fertilizers.
Foreign aid programs gained popularity during the 1960s. President
John F. Kennedy created the Peace Corps with Executive Order 10924 in
1961 to send Americans abroad to help countries requesting assistance.
Also in 1961, the Foreign Assistance Act separated military and non-military
aid to other countries. This act led to the founding of the U.S. Agency
for International Development (USAID) to deal with economic and social
assistance to developing nations. USAID provided much of the funding
for the Center’s international efforts.
The Center’s overseas presence declined during the early 1990s
as international donor assistance programs and associated resources
were focused on emerging democracies. Worldwide, relations between the
United States and the Soviet Union changed after Glasnost, the fall
of the Berlin Wall, and the end of the Soviet Union. After almost thirty
years in vertebrate pest damage management helping developing countries
feed themselves, the Center’s international agricultural development
research efforts ceased in 1995, due to insufficient funding as major
international donors shifted funding priorities. Even though the NWRC
no longer has a formalized international program, the Center continues
to provide international assistance as requested, and has done so on
about thirty occasions to eleven countries since 1995. In retrospect,
for over thirty years the Center has provided valuable aid and assistance,
often on a basic human level to many different countries in the world.
* See also: stories
from the field
- Kennen, George F. Memoirs: 1950-1963. Boston: Little, Brown, 1971.
- Perkins, John H. Geopolitics and the Green Revolution: Wheat, Genes,
and the Cold War. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.
- Statement Upon Signing Order Establishing the Peace Corps, President
John F. Kennedy (Executive Order 10924)
- USAID A History
of Foreign Assistance
- RiceWorld - The Green Revolution
- The Green Revolution, 1960-1990