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PROPOSED BILL LANGUAGE
333, recently bets of holding an inte without the
Mr. WHITTEN. This year you have proposed adding new language to your bill language which would provide that your funds can be used to provide “financial assistance to the organizers of international conferences, if such conferences are in support of agency programs.” Why is this language needed?
Dr. BERTRAND. A Comptroller General's opinion, 45 Comp. Gen. 333, recently held that research funds may not be used to partially support the costs of holding an international conference as a means of acquiring research information without the acquiesence of Congress.
This opinion threw a legal cloud over the USDA's long standing reliance on other authority to make such payments notwithstanding the provisions of 22 U.S.C. 262, at point in the Comptroller General's decision. Though the decision does not expressly negate the general authority on which we rely, the advice of USDA's Office of General Counsel is that specific language authorizing such payments be requested.
Mr. WHITTEN. Have you provided support of this type in the past, and if so, what did you use for your authority to provide such support?
Dr. BERTRAND. USDA, Science and Education Administration, has helped defray such organizational expenses for international conferences in the past, where such conferences would contribute to the efficient pursuit of authorized USDA missions. USDA is specifically authorized to participate in meetings by 5 U.S.C. 5946— formerly 5 U.S.C. 83-exempting USDA from the ban on payment of expenses incident to the "acquiring of information at meetings by its employees.” 7 U.S.C. 3291 gives additional authority for USDA's support of international meetings by authorizing the expansion of international research materials exchange, together with the expansion of operational coordination with institutions and people world-wide.
The foregoing authority has long been relied on by USDA as adequate to exempt it from 22 U.S.C. 262, requiring specific authority for participation in any international congress, conference, or like event. The recent Comptroller General's opinion makes it legally prudent to request express legislative language authorizing USDA, Science and Education Administration's international participation “if such conferences are in support of agency programs.”
Mr. WHITTEN. What would you anticipate your expenditures would be in support of this during fiscal year 1982, and how would that compare with fiscal years 1981 and 1980?
Dr. BERTRAND. We anticipate expenditures of $110,000 in fiscal year 1982. We compare that with $153,000 in 1980, and $125,000 in 1981.
FOOD SAFETY AND NUTRITION Mr. WHITTEN. You are asking for an increase of $2 million for animal production research in support of FDA, FSQS, and APHIS, and you say that, “Food derived from animals will need to be even more safe and nutritious than it is at present." To what extent are you implying that food derived from animals is not safe and nutritious as of the present time?
Dr. BERTRAND. We did not intend to imply that food derived from animals is presently not nutritious or is unsafe. We intended to indicate that we will have even greater assurance because of a better understanding of its nutritional value and an improved ability to predict potential harmful contaminants. The objective of the research on food derived from animals is to provide consumers with nutritious, wholesome, high-quality, safe food from animals at affordable prices.
As a part of research to support FDA, FSQS, and APHIS, assuring safety of food and forestalling emerging safety problems in food, research will include studies on metabolism and toxicity of chemicals, feed additives, hormones, antibiotics, and plant toxicants. In addition, animal disease research will be initiated to solve problems on the control or eradication of bluetongue, African swine fever, screwworms, cattle ticks, and scabies.
DRUG USE EDUCATION Mr. WHITTEN. In connection with this research you refer to the need to identify the effects of drugs, chemicals and biological agents on animals. In addition to your research program, what are you doing in the area of the Extension Service as far as educating producers in the proper use of drugs and chemicals and biological agents so that they have a better understanding of how these should be used?
Dr. BERTRAND. The proper use of chemicals, including drugs, is an integral part of all Extension veterinarians, animal scientists, and poultry specialists educational program. These programs include workshops, publications, newsletters, radio, T.V., newspaper articles, etc. Farmers are usually interested only in the chemicals they use in their production system. These chemicals vary from specie to specie and the type of production within specie. The educational programs that address the production of a particular specie and/or type of production activity cover the proper usage and withdrawal schedules for any recommended chemicals for controlling disease and parasites or for improving growth and feed efficiency.
It should be noted that state feed control boards uniformly adhere to Food and Drug Administration regulations concerning feeding levels and withdrawal times. Extension personnel spends considerable educational effort teaching producers to follow label requirements. This same approach is utilized in pesticide labeling.
ALTERNATIVES TO NITRITE Mr. WHITTEN. You also refer to research you have underway to find alternatives to nitrite. The National Academy of Sciences currently has a study underway in support of USDA and FDA. Why are you conducting this research in advance of them making their recommendations?
Dr. BERTRAND. Work was already underway at the Eastern Regional Research Center as part of the project on the chemistry of nitrosamine formation and inhibition. In addition, work was already underway on looking for chemical anticlostridial agents and physical methods to control C. botulinum, i.e., water activity. All
SEA research on alternatives to nitrite predates the FDA-FSQS sponsored contract with the National Academy of Sciences. This agency has and is providing research information upon which the National Academy of Sciences will make its recommendation.
Mr. WHITTEN. When do you anticipate the National Academy of Sciences will complete their review and make their recommendations to you?
Dr. BERTRAND. Since this is an FSQS contract, the report will be made to that agency first. The final report and recommendations by the National Academy of Sciences is due “after completion of Parts I and II” which are themselves due on December 15, 1981 and March 15, 1982 respectively.
Mr. WHITTEN. You also state that you need to increase your knowledge of foreign animal diseases, bluetongue, screwworm, scabies, and ticks in order to reduce their threat to the livestock industry in the United States. What more do we need to know about screwworms as it affects the livestock industry in the United States? What type of resources do you intend to devote to studying screwworms here in the U.S.? Dr. BERTRAND. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Veterinary Services progam of screwworm eradication has had notable success in Mexico during the past year. As eradication moves further south into Mexico, new problems are encountered which require basic and applied research for their solution. Although much of this research will be conducted in Mexico and is included in our request for support of action and regulatory requirements, the results are of direct benefit to the livestock industry of the United States by protecting our country from reinfestation. The final objective, of course, is to establish a permanent and effective barrier zone in Southern Mexico. With the closing of the APHIS screwworm production facility in Mission, Texas, research scientists are being systematically transferred to the APHIS screwworm production facility in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Mexico, and the Metabolism and Radiation Research Laboratory in Fargo, North Dakota. At the North Dakota facility we intend to have 3 or 4 scientists working directly on basic problems associated with the genetic characterization of screwworms, the development of a male only strain, and the discovery of more effective screwworm attractants. Mr. WHITTEN. You say that animal disease research in support of action and regulatory agencies will be initiated to solve problems of control or eradication on various diseases, and you again mention screwworms. What do you plan to do in this area? Dr. BERTRAND. The needs of the APHIS-Veterinary Services program of screwworm eradication will be met by developing new, competitive screwworm strains for use in the screwworm production facility. We also plan to continue research on the screwworm adult suppression system to make sure that it is effective in all parts of Mexico, to develop a system to kill screwworm females so that males only will be mass reared, to characterize geographic populations of screwworms, to study the ecology and population dynamics of screwworms in the future barrier zone, and to develop better attractants of screwworms for use in control and surveillance systems. Other research involving the genetics of screwworms is also planned
CONTAGIOUS EQUINE METRITIS
Mr. WHITTEN. You are proposing to eliminate your research on contagious equine metritis. Why do you feel it would be appropriate to eliminate this research at this time?
Dr. BERTRAND. The elimination of contagious equine metritis research is proposed, as it is the Department's policy to continue funding only those research projects considered most essential to the nation's agricultural and consumer needs. The last cases of contagious equine metritis in the United Sates occurred in Missouri in April 1979 and in Kentucky in March 1978. These outbreaks were limited to farms which are currently quarantined. The quarantines are expected to be lifted soon, pending a final negative examination. Department of Agriculture research has provided us with adequate means to identify, control, and eradicate the disease.
IMPORTANCE OF GENETIC RESEARCH
Mr. WHITTEN. Why are new crops and new strains of crops of importance to agriculture? What are the Department's goals related to these activities? Dr. BERTRAND. The development of new improved varieties has been and will continue to be important to American argiculture. Most of the economic crops now grown in this country were not native but were introduced from other countries. For this reason, many of the plants introduced were not adapted to the soils or climate of this country and, as a result, there were many unanticipated disease and insect problems. Over the years, the USDA, state agricultural experiment stations, and private industry have conducted very extensive research on developing improved crop varieties for the many varied production areas of the United States. Largely because of this effort, crop yields have increased dramatically and losses to plant pests have been greatly reduced. For example, average yields for corn during the 1970's were 276 percent greater than the average yields during the 1930's. Wheat showed an increase of 136 percent. SEA-AR has introduced over 200 new improved crop varieties or breeding lines during the last year. These include new releases of wheat, barley, oats, millet, rice, soybean, sunflower, sugarbeet, sugarcane, cotton, fruits, vegetables, and forage crops. It is difficult to estimate the economic impact of these particular releases on American agriculture but each will make an important contribution toward increasing the efficiency of crop production. For example, the new Tifton 44 bermudagrass variety introduced 3 years ago is more winter-hardy, produces a higher quality forage crop, and results in a 19 percent greater daily animal gain than the standard forage variety, used in the Southeastern States. This new variety will probably be planted on a million acres of land by next year and has the potential of producing an additional 50 million pounds of beef each year than would have been possible with previous varieties. There are other excellent examples of the value of plant breeding and the development of improved varieties. SEA-AR breeders,