GAINESVILLE, Fla.Ground was broken here today for a U.S. Department of Agriculture facility where scientists will develop the next generation of tools to protect U.S. military personnel from disease-transmitting insects.
Construction of the new research building, funded by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), is the first step in a project to improve the Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomologys (CMAVE) Mosquito and Fly Research Unit, in support of the DOD need to protect soldiers from insects and insect-borne diseases. CMAVE is operated by the Agricultural Research Service, USDAs chief scientific research agency.
USDA and the Department of Defense have a long history of working together to produce products to control disease-carrying insects, said Joseph Jen, USDA Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics. These products are being used to protect the military and save millions of lives every year around the world.
Jen was the keynote speaker at the event. In addition, Darrell F. Cole, ARS South Atlantic area director, and DOD officials also participated in the ceremony. Several hundred people were in attendance, including personnel of the State of Florida and USDA, as well as community leaders and elected officials.
The new facility will help the research unit develop new and improved pesticides, application procedures and personal protection methods to fend off mosquitoes and flies that transmit diseases. Currently, ARS and CMAVE are participating in a DOD initiative called the Deployed War Fighter Protection Research Program (DWFP). The DWFP has funded CMAVE to develop methods to protect U.S. military personnel from disease-transmitting insects.
The new building will add more than 4,000 square feet of high-quality research space to CMAVE, which is adjacent to the University of Florida in Gainesville. The facility will cost about $1 million to build and will include a greenhouse and head house with insect rearing facilities and plant-growth chambers.
CMAVEs research is aimed at reducing or eliminating the harm caused by insects to crops, stored products, livestock and humans. Research is focused on the insects themselves, the pathogens they may transmit, and identification of inherent protective mechanisms in plants. The center has five research units.