The American Society of Parasitologists (ASP) has written to government agricultural leaders regarding the state of the U.S. National Parasite Collection.  The letter calls for action “to avoid further erosion of the museum’s collections, to modernize the holdings and make them more accessible to users through appropriate modern interfaces, to deal with a backlog of material to be accessioned, and to accommodate and safely store parasite genetic material.”

The group calls for an increase in the museum’s $10,000 annual budget to allow for proper curation of the collection and to address a back-log of 60,000 accessions.  Clarity regarding the future of the parasite collection is needed, especially if the collection is to be transferred to another institution.  Broader input from the scientific community is also called for.

The National Parasite Collection is the largest parasite collection in the world, and one of only three parasite collections in the United States.  The collection is used to study emerging diseases and identify potential controls for invasive species.  The collection is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service in Beltsville, Maryland.

Click here to read the letter from ASP.  The letter was sent to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsak, administrator of the Agricultural Research Service, and various program leaders within the department.