The federal Department of Agriculture awarded $46 million in research grants Monday and Oregon State University received the largest one.
Fruit fly researchers at Oregon State University have won a grant for more than $5.7 million.
Of the grants that the USDA awarded for specialty crop research this year, OSU’s is almost $2 million more than the next largest grant.
That’s because the fruit fly that OSU is studying — the Spotted Wing Drosophila — could cause half a billion dollars in damage to crops if it’s not controlled.
Vaughn Waltonis an entomologist at OSU.
Vaughn Walton: “The problem that we’re dealing with is basically a problem that affects the whole of the west coast. That makes this type of work more expensive. And of course the importance of this problem as well, the fact that this fly attacks such a wide range of different crops.”
Those crops include cherries, peaches, plums and some berries. Walton says the fly was first discovered in Oregon last August.
OSU is now working with six subcontractors to research how to control the spread of the fruit fly.