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In the United States, as well as in the rest of the world, just about everyone beyond the age of ten has become aware of the current government shutdown in the US. The negative consequences of the current government shutdown have been discussed in the news and all over the internet for weeks now. Among these well publicized consequences, the discontinuation of paycheck disbursement to federal employees has become the most well known. However, one consequence of the government shutdown that is mostly unknown to the public is the sudden interruption in insect-pest research. Like many professional research projects, research into insects, especially insect-pest control, is usually funded by the government. Universities, colleges and other public and private institutions that conduct research into insect pests are often only able to do so with money provided by federal programs. Naturally, many current insect-pest research projects have been discontinued as a result of the government shutdown. This discontinuation in insect pest research is resulting in high economic costs both presently and in the long term, and many of these research projects were directly concerned with preventing the spread of insect-borne disease.

As you may know, the US Government has spent billions of dollars funding research aimed at preventing disease-carrying mosquitoes from causing epidemics and smaller-scale outbreaks within the US and elsewhere. Much of this research was initiated following the Zika outbreaks that occurred during the years of 2015 and 2016. Many cutting-edge mosquito control measures have since been developed thanks to this funding, but many important and extremely expensive research projects into disease-carrying insects have ceased as a result of the shutdown. Some of these projects will become a waste, as federally funded scientists are no longer available to maintain these projects. For example, one project of this kind had researchers making use of a particular fungus that had proven effective at controlling the spread of Zika and dengue-carrying mosquitoes. These mosquito specimens, as well as the experimental fungal specimens, require careful and regular monitoring in order to survive and provide useful data. However, since many government funded scientists working on this and other related research projects have been furloughed in response to the shutdown, all of the valuable mosquito and fungal specimens have died, therefore, all research data so far compiled has become unusable. Not only are millions of dollars being wasted as a result of this sudden halt in research, but research that has been demonstrated to save people from contracting insect-borne disease has been destroyed.

Do you think that the effect that the government shutdown is having insect-pest research will put people at risk of contracting dangerous, and in some cases, deadly insect-borne diseases?