Government Shutdown Would Set Insect Science Back
Annapolis, MD; December 21, 2018—When the U.S. federal government shuts down, scientific progress—and all the ways it benefits Americans every day—gets shut down, too.
On behalf of insect scientists working in educational institutions, health agencies, private industry, and government, the Entomological Society of America urges our leaders in Washington, DC, to find bipartisan solutions to keep the U.S. government working effectively and efficiently, and without interruption.
“A lot of incredible science happens in our government every day, but when the government shuts down, even partially, that work is derailed,” says Robert K. D. Peterson, Ph.D., president of the Entomological Society of America and professor of entomology at Montana State University. “Entomologists at the Department of Agriculture, Department of Interior, Forest Service, and other federal agencies are critical drivers of innovation to protect our crops from pests, reduce vector-borne disease, and stop the spread of invasive species—just to name a few. We hope their work on behalf of the American people will not be impeded.”
Entomological research is often cyclical and dependent on seasons, meaning even a short interruption to the timing of ongoing experiments can have long-lasting effects. The brown marmorated stink bug, for instance, will emerge in the spring to damage crops throughout the country, and research experiments to test new tools for managing the pest must be prepared in time for the growing season. The interruption caused by a government shutdown could cause researchers to miss their seasonal window of opportunity, setting them back a whole year.
In addition to entomological research and development conducted by scientists at the USDA, Department of Interior, U.S. Forest Service, and other agencies, insect science at universities and other research institutions can also be affected by a shutdown. Some seeking federal grants would face delays in funding that allows their work to happen, while others who need access to resources like the Smithsonian Institution’s U.S. National Entomological Collection would be forced to wait. Student researchers who collaborate with government agencies could see their degree pursuits delayed.
Meanwhile, a shutdown can also hurt American agricultural producers by denying them tools to fight invasive insects and pests that have the potential to do billions of dollars' worth of damage. New insect management products currently under review by the Environmental Protection Agency might not be approved in time for this year’s growing season if the agency were closed.
Any government shutdown—as well as the ongoing climate of uncertainty and disorganization under which U.S. federal agencies must now operate—is a harm to important scientific work, in both entomology and beyond. An efficient and fully operational government means science can continue to progress and can continue to benefit the American people.
CONTACT: Joe Rominiecki, firstname.lastname@example.org, 301-731-4535 x3009
ABOUT: ESA is the largest organization in the world serving the professional and scientific needs of entomologists and people in related disciplines. Founded in 1889, ESA today has more than 7,000 members affiliated with educational institutions, health agencies, private industry, and government. Headquartered in Annapolis, Maryland, the Society stands ready as a non-partisan scientific and educational resource for all insect-related topics. For more information, visit www.entsoc.org.
ESA continues to monitor the ongoing federal government shutdown and its effects on insect science. News reports covering the shutdown have noted stories from entomologists among examples of the shutdown's harm to science, ESA has spoken with media on behalf of the entomological community, and entomologists have shared their stories and views on Twitter:
- "Dead bees, dusty offices: US scientists face post-shutdown malaise," Nature, January 29, 2019
- "As shutdown drags on, scientists scramble to keep insects, plants and microbes alive," Los Angeles Times, January 17, 2019
- "No pay. No retirement. No stink bugs by mail. The shutdown pain is spreading," Science, January 16, 2019
- "Here’s How the Shutdown Is Delaying Climate Data and Undercutting Scientists," The New York Times, January 15, 2019
- "U.S. government shutdown starts to take a bite out of science," Science, January 7, 2019
- "Disruptive, disappointing, chaotic: Shutdown upends scientific research," The Washington Post, December 28, 2018
- #ShutdownBugsMe hashtag on Twitter