Newswise — Invasive species threaten our nation’s food and water supply, a problem that becomes more serious in light of recent funding cuts out of Washington. Virginia Tech’s Jacob Barney, an expert in the field of invasive plant ecology, has joined a dozen colleagues in addressing this dilemma in a letter published in Science this week. 

“We want to bring broad attention to our now greatly limited federal capacity to address the biological invasion crisis,” said Barney.  “We urge our colleagues, the diverse stakeholders working on invasive species, and the public to strengthen our federal coordination and funding to mitigate invasive species.”

Department of the Interior officials cut the National Invasive Species Council budget by half and terminated the associated Invasive Species Advisory Committee effectively crippling the ability of federal agencies to work with each other and with nonfederal stakeholders to address invasive species.

“The biological invasions crisis requires coordination among the diverse federal and non-federal stakeholders, especially for new and emerging invasive species,” said Barney. “Prevention and early detection and rapid response, which are now limited with these actions, are our best chances to mitigate the devastating impacts of invasive species.”

Invasive species can threaten our food and water supply, human health, and native species biodiversity to name a few. Invasive species affect every sector of the nation regardless of jurisdiction or politics, and cost the US economy hundreds of billions annually, according to Barney.

“The world is becoming increasingly invaded with no signs of that slowing. The public plays an important role in mitigating the invasion threat through choices, such as what to plant in your garden and actions like not moving firewood,” said Barney. “Invasive species are a component of nearly every ecosystem on Earth, and threaten the very resources we depend on.”

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