Fungicides have become an integral part of efficient food production. The loss of a fungicide to agriculture through resistance is a problem that affects us all. It may lead to unexpected and costly crop losses to farmers causing local shortages and increased food prices. Manufacturers lose revenue vital for funding the enormous development costs of new products. Without reinvestment there would be no new compounds. This would cause serious disease management problems that would endanger the world food supply.
The problem of resistance has increased since the advent of highly effective compounds with specific sites of action. Although representing marked improvements in performance, including systemic and therapeutic properties, experience has shown that these compounds may be prone to resistance. As reliance on these fungicides grows, action is required to safeguard their effectiveness.
Industry recognises its responsibilityin safeguarding new chemistries that are brought to market. Through FRAC and the Working Groups it coordinates, companies are striving to establish more effective communications to alert all people involved in the research, production, marketing, registration and use of fungicides to the problems of resistance.
With an enlightened attitude, effective strategies can be conceived and adopted. Cooperative action is essential if we are to preserve the option of chemical disease control for our crops.
History of FRAC
FRAC and its Working Groups originated as a result of a course on fungicide resistance in 1980, and developed at an industry seminar in Brussels in 1981.
The seminar attracted 68 scientists and marketing managers from 35 major agrochemical companies worldwide. At the meeting it was apparent that there was an urgent need for collaboration. The Fungicide Resistance Action Committee was thus born as an organisation designed to discuss resistance problems and formulate plans for cooperative efforts to avoid or manage fungicide resistance. FRAC became incorporated within GIFAP, the International Group of National Associations of Manufacturers of Agrochemical Products. This organisation was later renamed Global Crop Protection Federation (GCPF). Throughout 2000 and 2001, GCPF has worked to evolve into CropLife International, the new global federation to represent the plant science industry.
Working Groups for benzimidazoles, dicarboximides, demethylation inhibitors (DMI's) and phenylamides were organised and companies were soon cooperating in monitoring studies and other technical projects. Fungicide use guidelines designed to reduce the risk of resistance developing or to manage it if it was present, were produced and have been refined as knowledge grew. The DMI Working Group was expanded to cover all Sterol Biosynthesis Inhibitors, and renamed the SBI Fungicides Working Group.
The introduction of the anilinopyrimidines in 1995 and STAR fungicides (Strobilurin Type Action and Resistance) in 1997 (now renamed QoI Fungicides Working Group) and more recently the introduction of new carboxylic acid amides (CAA fungicides) led to the formation of working groups for these new areas.
In comparison to the above-mentioned “AI-based” working groups, the Banana Working Group deals with a single crop and several chemical groups. The Banana Working Group, which was created in 2003, is comprised of banana grower associations, research institutions and chemical manufacturers. The objectives of this working group are similar to the other FRAC groups.
In 2003 the Benzimidazole, Dicarboximide and Phenylamide Working Groups were reorganized as Expert Fora. These Fora are constructed as informal networks of technical experts around the world. They provide a general global overview of the resistance situation for these groups and are updated on an "as needed" basis as new information becomes available.