Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, Pest Infestation Research Laboratory, 1940-1959
Administrative / biographical background:
The Pest Infestation Laboratory at Slough was set up by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research on 1 April, 1940 to investigate attack by insect, mite and fungal pests on harvested crops and some animal products during all stages of storage, transport and processing. The physiology, habits and life history of these pests and a few domestic insects were studied and chemical and other methods were sought by which they could be eradicated or the growth of their populations controlled. The work on insect infestation of stored products was first begun in 1927 by Professor J W Munro D Sc of Imperial College of Science and Technology (ICST). Its importance gained the early recognition of the Empire Marketing Board who, with support from industry, recruited a research team which quickly demonstrated the value of a scientific approach to the control of industrial pests. In 1938 Mr W A McAuley Gracie of London and North Eastern Railway set up an informal committee from industry to consider problems arising from the infestation of grain by insects and mites. At a meeting between the informal committee and DSIR in 1938, DSIR agreed to sponsor, with financial support from industry, a fact finding survey of infestation in the UK.
Professor Munro agreed to organise this survey and the Grain Infestation Survey Committee (GISC) was formed to assist him. To maintain close contact with industry a standing conference was set up under the chairmanship of Mr Gracie. The result of the survey proved the need for control measures and in December 1938, following representations from the Standing Conference and the Food (Defence Plans) Department, GISC agreed that"research into pest infestation and the application of scientific knowledge in remedial and control measures was a task which demanded a continuous scientific service of indefinite duration." As a result, the PIL was established by the department of Scientific and Industrial Research and housed in the ICST's Biological Field Station at Slough with Professor Munro as scientific consultant. The laboratory collaborated closely with chemists and entomologists of the ICST eg, Page and Lubatti who prepared a report on fumigation.
In 1959 the laboratory was transferred to the control of the Agricultural Research Council and on 1st March 1970 its control passed to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food where it was merged with the Infestation Control Laboratory, the previous main users of its research work, and re-styled Pest Infestation Control Laboratory.
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