Harrington’s Predictions for the Future of Pest Management

|  September 10, 2013

Gazing into my crystal ball to predict pest management public policy trends in 2033, I have a newfound appreciation for The Jetsons. When the TV series first aired in 1962, it envisioned life in 2062. By any standard, program creators Joseph Barbera and William Hanna were bold, cutting-edge futurists. While George Jetson’s aerocar is unlikely to hit the marketplace within 20 years, advances in technology will have a significant impact on pest management public policy by 2033. For example, a number of states will likely require pesticide application and other records to be retained electronically. Some states also will mandate that required consumer information be conveyed electronically. Policy makers will probably mandate other technologies, such as pesticide application technology to decrease the possibility of misapplications and remote electronic trap technology for nuisance wildlife work.

Of course, as the old saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same. That means bed bugs will still be a significant pest. Consequently, state and local governments will approve a dizzying number of laws and ordinances geared toward more aggressively controlling or preventing the blood-sucking pest. Although most of the measures will be aimed at landlords and managers of properties such as hotels and other lodging facilities, some will greatly affect pest management professionals (PMPs) and how they provide bed bug management services. Some states may even mandate warranties or guarantees.

Thanks to a more rigid pesticide registration and re-evaluation process that takes into account new criteria, such as volatilization, endocrine disruption, pollinator protection, water quality and endangered species, product labels will be much more restrictive and prescriptive in 2033. Many states also are likely to increase their minimum competency standards for technicians, certified applicators and not-for-hire applicators. More states will likely adopt criminal background check requirements for residential service industries, including professional pest management services. Currently, only a handful of states have criminal background check requirements for PMPs, but that number is likely to double, or even triple, within 20 years.

The future of IPM
By 2033, some state school integrated pest management (IPM) laws and regulations will have been around 30 or 40 years. In some states, those mandates will likely be gathering dust, long-forgotten and never adhered to or enforced. In many other states, however, school IPM laws and rules will undergo considerable overhauls. Some will be relaxed at the request of the schools looking to save costs, while others will be more rigid and restrictive. Other states will expand the IPM requirements to cover childcare facilities and nursing homes. All of these IPM-related requirements will likely serve to encourage the increased use of new, low-impact product formulations.

As for pest management public policy in 2062, driverless — not flying — cars will find a burgeoning marketplace, including service industries such as pest management. With this new innovation comes a separate, emerging set of regulations to which we’ll all need to follow and adhere. Some things never change. pmp

Harrington, NPMA vice president of government affairs, can be reached at gharrington@pestworld.org

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