USDA's Fruit Fly Research

RCED-95-274R: Published: Sep 14, 1995. Publicly Released: Sep 14, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Agriculture Research Service's (ARS) expenditures on fruit fly research activities in Hawaii. GAO noted that: (1) ARS changed the focus of the medfly research when it failed to suppress the medfly's native population and shifted its research to the native population's resistance to sterile-male mating and ancillary suppression techniques; (2) ARS spent about $8.5 million on the medfly project from 1989 to 1994; (3) ARS spent about $1.75 million on the broad systems project before cancelling the male fly annihilation part of the project; (4) ARS spent almost $1 million on renovations to laboratories that were subsequently closed; (5) ARS decided to stop using helicopters for the project when it stopped its sterile fly releases and diverted the funds to researching ancillary suppression technologies; (6) ARS spent $858,000 to improve its Wailua facility to support the sterile fly releases planned under the medfly project, but it is now doing other field research and raising a new strain of sterile medfly at the facility; (7) ARS acquired four vehicles for field research and to replace transferred and disposed of vehicles; (8) although ARS decided not to use the fly-rearing facility located near the Honolulu International Airport, ARS is liable for predesign costs and possible rent expenses; and (9) ARS considered several options for relocating its facilities before deciding that consolidation of some of the labs in Hilo was the best alternative.

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