Congress passed a bill that included an amendment instructing the inspector general of the Department of Defense to determine whether or not the DOD experimented with weaponizing certain insects, including ticks.
These alleged experiments would have happened sometime between 1950 and 1975.
Here's what we know
This amendment was brought forward by New Jersey's lone Republican member of Congress, Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.). It was included in this congressional term's version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
Smith said in a news release that he had been "inspired to write the amendment" after becoming aware of "a number of books and articles suggesting that significant research had been done at U.S. government facilities including Fort Detrick, Maryland and Plum Island, New York to turn ticks and other insects into bioweapons."
According to Smith, the amendment would instruct the DOD's inspector general to determine the answers to a number of questions including:
What were the parameters of the program?
Who ordered it?
Was there ever any accidental release anywhere or at any time of any diseased ticks?
Were any ticks released by design?
Did the program contribute to the disease burden?
Can any of this information help current-day researchers find a way to mitigate these diseases?
"My hope is, this jump-starts a very aggressive effort to find a cure and see how this (Lyme disease) is growing. It's pushing out into the Great Lakes area. It's exploding everywhere," Smith told the Asbury Park Press.
According to CBS News, some of the information in the books Smith cited have been dismissed by experts.
Smith has been an outspoken advocate for Lyme disease research.
The House version of the NDAA, including this amendment, still has to head to the Senate for approval.