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Dept. of Agro-food Safety and Crop Protection

The department of Agro-food Safety and Crop Protection has been contributing to farm household by developing techniques for producing agro-foods which consumers could choose with relief.

The department of Agro-food Safety and Crop Protection at National Institute of Agricultural Sciences promotes technical development to support the production of safe agro-foods and fundamental research to achieve four main goals with the vision 'Construction of management foundation to produce safe agro-foods at the level of G7 developed countries'. The goals are: 1) establishment of risk assessment system for agro-foods based on scientific importance, 2) domestic consumption and export expansion by means of securing safety of agro-foods from farm to table, 3) construction of foundation of GAP system and distribution of practical model developed for each crop, and 4) development of Korean organic agricultural techniques and use in the field.

The department of Agro-food Safety and Crop Protection consists of four divisions, Chemical Safety Division, Crop Protection Division, Agromaterial Assessment Division and Microbial Safety Team. Each division has its own task. Chemical Safety Division has research projects to construct synthetic management system of hazardous substances for safe agro-foods. The main goal of Crop Protection Division is development of plant protection technologies and entomological resources, and development of crop protection methods safe to human and ecosystems. Agromaterial Assessment Division is carrying out the evaluation of pesticide for registration and researches on the development of management system for pesticide safety. Microbial Safety Team is performing researches to distribute and expand GAP system and to reduce hazardous microbial organisms in agro-foods.

Also, our researches are centered on three main targets such as on-farm research, thorough customer management, the strengthening of public relations and so forth.

Chemical Safety Division

To keep under the control of various chemical contaminants in agro-food, it is needed to integrated hazardous substance management scheme which can guard the agro-food safety 'from the Farm to the Table'. This division works for establish specialized analysis and monitoring system, and operate new reducing program for various pollutants to achieve our goal.

Establish the management protocol of organic pollutants

The residue analysis of chemical contaminants in agro-food which require accurate measuring facility and credible result, has been constructed with specialized operating guideline for quality assurance.

Development of new multi-residue analysis methods for pesticides and organic pollutants

We developed new multi-residue analysis methods. Conventional residue-analysis methods had complicated multi-step pretreatment protocols for its credible results, thus we modified and simplified these protocols with GC/MS(MS) or LC/MS(MS).

Classification Element Analysis method Analyzing an efficiency
Pesticide Paraquat HPLC → LC/MS/MS Sensitivity : 0.5 → 0.02(ppm)
Time : 20 → 3Hours
EPN Methribuzine,
GC/injector → GC/SFSI Time : 24 → 4hours
Dicamba, 2,4-D GC → LC/MS/MS Sensitivity : 2 → 0.1(ppb)
Time : 9 → 5hours
200 species of pesticide Modified Mills Method (GC HPLC) → QuEChERS(LC/MS/MS) Saved time : 1/10
Heavy metal 5 Elements(As, Cd, Cu, Mg, Pd) Acid Digestion method → Microwave extracting method (ICP)(ICP/MS) Sensitivity : 10 → 0.1(ppb)
Dioxins Dioxins Adding analysis column, SP2331 (DB-5 MS + SP2331) Similar to 17species of dioxin Possible to analyze 12 species of similar dioxin

ntroducing and distributing safe pesticide application manual for exporting agricultural products.

In order to solve recent residual pesticide issues on exporting agricultural product, we introduced a safe application guideline of 9,032 pesticides for major exporting 25 crops. And it has been used for education on field as good reference.

Our division has run new research teams (toxicology research team) for preventing from various chemical contaminants in agro-food. The toxicology research team is working for toxicity and risk assessment of various hazardous substances in agro-food and agricultural environments.

Crop Protection Division

The Crop Protection Division is consists of six lab. Fungal & bacterial disease Lab, Insect Pests Lab, Virus disease Lab, Weed Science Lab, Natural Enemies of Insect pests Lab, and Nematology Lab.

Diagnosis and Management of Crop Diseases

The climate change and the environmental changes in agricultural ecosystems led to a significant increase of emerging disease incidence in crops that are grown in Korea. To cope with these new agricultural environment changes, we developed identification and diagnostic techniques and control method for casual agents of some plant diseases. Eleven plant fungal pathogens on kiwi, chinese flowering-quince and other crops were identified. Also, three diagnostic primer sets for detecting unrecorded Xanthomonas species in Korea, Xanthomonas translucens, X. campestris and X. theicola, have developed and applied for patents. Pathogenicity of Acidovorax citrulli, causal pathogen of bacterial fruit blotch, was tested and 6 cucurbitaceous crops including watermelon were confirmed as the most susceptible hosts. As a candidate to control bacterial wilt on tomato plants, acibenzola S-methyl was selected.

[Four fungal pathogens causing kiwi fruit rot. A, Botryosphaeria parva B, B. dothidea; C, Phomopsis sp.; D, Colletotrichum acutatum.]

[Botryosphaeria obtusa causing black rot on leaves of chinese flowering-quince.]

[Diagnostic primer sets for detecting unrecorded Xanthomonas species]

Development of population dynamic model and control tactics of agricultural insect pests

We studied the temperature dependent development and oviposition characteristics of Laodelphax striatellus (SBPH), Sogatella furcifera (WBPH) and Cnaphalocrocis medinalis (RLF) for population dynamic models. The models of SBPH, WBPH and RLF were developed using DYMEX® program. The result showed that the models have high predictability of stage structure of SBPH, WBPH and RLF at certain time. In addition, we tried to prevent lantern fly (Lycorma delicatula) invading grape orchards with trap plants which were injected with 10% glucose aqueous solution plus 1% insecticide (lambda-cyhalothrin+thiamethoxam). This study was performed in four sites, Young-cheon, Kyeong-san, An-sung, and Yeon-gi. After the trap plants were set in a nearby hill, we counted the invading lantern flies from the nearby hill to the field of grape vines. Result of the trial revealed that the blocking effect of the trap plants in Young-cheon and Kyoung-san was 70~80%, but less effective in An-sung and Yeon-gi sites.

Virus disease

Potato spindle tuber viroid (PSTVd), a national prohibition pathogen, was not detected by RT-PCR for potato seed tubers grown in High land agriculture research center, and potatos in 1,069 farms at 40 areas (Si/Gun) in 8 Provincials including Gyeonggido. Tomato yellow leaf curl virus (TYLCV), a national management pathogen, was covered on tomato plants at 8 Provincials including Gyeongsangnamdo in 2011 after the innitial occurrence at Tongyoung area in 2008. The national management virus of Beet western yellows virus (BWYV) was occurred firstly on paprika crop at Jinju in Gyeongsangnamdo and Ganggin area in Jellanamdo in 2011. Four kinds of specific primers for genetic diagnosis of BWYV were developed. The specimens of 8,055 tests from 1,957 requests from agricultural actual places of farmers, Agricultural extension services, and so forth were diagnosed and the viral characteristics of morphology, transmission manner, and so forth were informed to the clients. Tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV) was spread to 29 Si/Gun after the firstly serious occurrence at Anyang area in 2004 and the newly natural hosts of TSWV were recorded on 36 plants. The total nucleotide sequences for 13 isolates of TSWV were analysed and the isolates were diverged genetically into 3 groups depending upon the incidence areas. Multiple genetic diagnosis method against 4 major viruses (SPLCV, SPFMV, SPGV, SPLV) infecting sweet potato was developed and its method was applied to a native patent. For the purpose of mapping for plant viruses in Korea using Large scale oligo-nucleotide (LSON) chip which could detect simultaneously for 540 virus species, plant specimens were collected from 41 places cover the country and the infected viruses had been identified. KACC, Korean agricultural culture collection, in plant viruses has been operated and the virus collection of species and strains was 1,364 in 2011, and the overall collection was 2,275.

  • [Mapping of TYLCV in Korea]
  • [Symptoms of TYLCV]
  • [Development of diagnostic LAMP]

Weed Science

An area of paddy fields occurring herbicide-resistant(HR) weeds is approximately 167,000ha (environmental friendly and organic fields excluded), accounted for 20.9% of total weeds. Reduction in rice yield due to HR weeds is about 30%. Yield loss was the highest in Echinochla, and Monochoria vaginalis, Scirpus uncoides, and Sagitaria trifolia in order. In order to minimize such damage by occurring HR weeds, required pre-emergent herbicide treatment and 2nd spraying application system has been established. In order to identify the genus Echinochloa, one of the most problematic paddy weeds, those were collected by population and classification key was made. Unidentified species of the Echinochloa was collected at Gwangyang, Jeonnam and named 'nadogangpi'. It will be reported in the Korean Society of Plant Taxonomy. Disease by TSWV giving catastrophic damages to winter pepper grown in the plastic house during the winter was spread by winter annual weed growing inside the plastic house.

  • [Collected inflorescences and seeds of the genus Echinochloa]

Natural Enemies of Insect pests Biocontrol of insect pests of hot pepper in greenhouse

The effect of natural enemies on four major pests of hot plant was tested in plastic greenhouses. The aphid was successfully controlled by introduction of three Aphidius-banker plants and releasing with 23.3 wasps per m2 on April 16, and 23 in a greenhouse of 660m². To control thrips, Orius laevigatus was released two times, 3.0 bugs per m² at a time (May 11st and June 12nd). And the thrips population was controlled under 0.3 thrips per flower growing season. To control of two mite and a whitefly, Tetranychus kanzawai, Bemisia tabaci and Polyhagotarsonemus latus, a total of 113.7 individuals of Amblyseius swirskii were released two times (May 11st and 30th), and the densities of B. tabaci and T. kanzawai were kept under 171.0 individuals/trap and 0.8 individual/leaf, respectively. P. latus was suppressed completely 12 days after the release.

Introduction of natural enemy of the Lanternfly

A parasitoid natural enemy which attack the lanternfly that invaded Korea few years ago was tested for introduction to natural habitat of Korea. The egg parasiotoid, Anastatus orientalis, was imported from China where it plays an important role in suppressing the lanternfly, and was under experiment to assess its potential risk to the ecosystem of Korea. After completion of the risk analysis and it turned out to have no harmful effect, we will mass rear the parasitoid using substitute hosts and release them to two selected regions where the lanternfly population was high.

Agromaterial Assessment Division

Pesticides are regulated by Rural Development Administration under the Pesticides Management Act, and are the most stringently regulated substances in Korea. Agromaterial Assessment Division is the branch of Department of Agro-food Safety and Crop Protection that reviews the dossiers submitted by pesticide and organic agro-material companies for the registrations. Our primary objective is to prevent unacceptable risks to human and the environment from the use of pesticides. To accomplish this, each pesticide and organic agro-material goes through scientific evaluation to determine if it meets current health and environmental standards. Only those Agro-Material products that meet RDA's standards and are proven to be effective can be accepted for use in Korea. RDA's involvement does not end after Agro-Material product include pesticide is on the market.
Both pesticides qualities and how they are used are monitored through a series of education, compliance and enforcement programs. Furthermore, after a pesticide has been on the market for several years, RDA conducts another evaluation. It re-evaluates the pesticide using the latest scientific methods and information to determine if it continues to meet RDA's health and environmental standards and whether it can continue to be used in Korea. Pesticides are re-evaluated every ten years.

The quality management of pesticides & improvement of analysis method

In order to ensure the quality of pesticides, we research on the improvement of analytical methods optimized for individual pesticides and establish accurate and simple methods for pesticide analysis.

  • [Biological/chemical analysis of pesticides]

  • [Improved pesticide analysed chromatogams]

The establishment of the test guidelines and the standards to assess the efficacy and phytotoxicity of pesticides

Each pesticide has to possess its control effects to target pests but has minimal side effects like phytotoxicity to the crops. We establish the test guidelines and proper standards to assess the biological efficacies to target virus and phytotoxicities to the crops in pesticide registration process. For useful reference of pesticides, Current aspect of pesticides registered by applied crops were classified and published.

  • Published standards for efficiency

  • Current aspect of pesticides registered by applied crops

Setting of the pesticide safety standards and quality control of the pesticide analysis

For the production of safe agricultural products, we have set the pre-harvest intervals(PHIs) of registrated pesticides and the temporary maximum residue limits(MRLs), respectively 500 per year and 200 per year. For the reliability of analysis data, we have conducted the proficiency test for 54 pesticide analysis laboratories in 2011. In addition, We have publish "the analytical methods of pesticide residues" for solving difficulties in agricultural field.

[Publication of the analytical methods of pesticide residues]

Risk Assessment Advancement of Pesticides

Toxicity Evaluation and risk assessment of pesticides for authorization on consumers and agricultural operators was conducted. Acceptable Daily Intake of 376 and Acceptable Operator Exposure Level of 200 active ingredients were established. Toxicity category of 1,400 pesticides for health and environment was classified. Two risk assessments, human health risk assessment and ecological risk assessment, are conducted for evaluating the risks to human and the environment respectively and their system is advanced through establishment of cautions and criteria on restricted use after risk assessment for environmental organisms such as fish, Daphnia magna, algae, honeybees, birds, earthworms, silkworms, etc.

Evaluation and Standard Establishment for Eco-friendly agro-materials

To improve eco-friendly organic agriculture, 368 agro-materials have been reviewed(290 registed, `11) and evaluated for applications from companies and standards of evaluation were enhanced for novel agro-materials. Safety Assessment of Fertilizers For distribution of safe fertilizers, safety assessment has been conducted on fertilizers in new registration applications, customs import clearance and civil affairs.

soil amendment matter/growth factor(`11, 173) microbial controler(`11, 40) insect controler(`11, 67)

Microbial Safety Team

In agro-foods, an outbreak of food poisoning can occur during the processes of production and circulation and cause not only social issue, but also diplomatic and trade conflict. As most of persons are interested in the safety of agro-foods, it is deeply required to develop advanced and precise methods to diagnose hazardous microorganism and techniques to control it for preventing the outbreak of food poisoning. Therefore, RDA newly established "'Microbial Safety Division" to satisfy nation's requirement of food safety and the division researches as followed.

Settlement of management system for agro-food safety including GAP

Although GAP system has been introduced in 2006, it is still difficult to apply the system to farmhouses. Researches regarding the establishment of criteria for increasing the effect of washing facility are strengthened. These will solve the problem of recontamination after washing at APC facilities.

  • Working area of APC handling convenient agro-foods including fresh cut vegetables and fruits

  • GAP based superior agro-foods festival

Reduction of mycotoxins in crops

We have been researching on mycotoxins produced by fungi in crops. As results during last decade, deoxinivalenol (DON) is mainly detected in corn cultivated in Korea. The quantity of DON was below the level of global standard. In case of rice, a staple food, mycotoxin could be a big problem even if rice is contaminated with a small quantity. However, it was too hard to detect contaminated rice in the polished rice. We have plans to broaden target crops, not only grains, but also fruits and vegetables and to research on prevention of fungus producing mycotoxin.

  • [Macroconidia of Fusarium and contaminated corn]

  • [Aspergillus and contaminated peanuts]

Diagnosis and control of bacteria causing sitotoxism in fresh vegetables

Vegetables and fruits were thought to be safe from hazardous microorganism related to food poisoning. However, recently the outbreak of food poisoning caused by vegetables and fruits has occurred frequently. Therefore we will develop rapid methods to detect such microorganisms and safe methods to control them using bacteriocin and bacteriophage that are harmless to human.

  • [Bacteriolysis and effect on soft rot disease by bacteriocin]

  • [The shape of bacteriophage]