Don't delay building biolab: Coalition to Congress

by Bryan Salvage
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OLATHE, KAN. — Congress was sent a clear message in recent days by key agriculture groups and veterinary experts: America must continue moving forward on a planned state-of-the-art research facility to protect the food supply and agriculture economy.

MEATPOULTRY.com relayed on July 30 that a hearing originally set for that same day on the safety of the K-State biolab named the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (N.B.A.F.) had been postponed, and that a new date had not been set.

A hearing was scheduled because the U.S. Government Accountability Office was concerned natural and other potential disasters at the Manhattan site are not completely understood. Some types of animal pathogen research may be unsafe within the continental U.S., G.A.O. stated.

Proponents of the biolab are emphasizing the urgency of completing building the biolab.

"We are pleased that a site (for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) was finally chosen, and we support its immediate construction," said the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. "Every day that N.B.A.F. is delayed, America's livestock producers are at risk . . . Foreign animal disease research, diagnostics, and control are complex and multifaceted, but with this new facility, we can continue to protect America's livestock, livestock producers, and consumers."

"Today, there is an urgent need to take the highly-successful Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C.) model for human disease diagnostics and research and apply it to animal disease diagnostics and research that will preserve a safe, healthy food supply and a sustainable, successful agriculture infrastructure," said W. Ron DeHaven, D.V.M., M.B.A., executive vice president and chief executive officer of the American Veterinary Medical Association. "Momentum (on the N.B.A.F.) must continue without delay if we are serious about food safety and public health in America. The result will be nothing less than another crown jewel of American science — in essence, a C.D.C. for animal health."

These views join those of a national coalition of public- and private-sector N.B.A.F proponents, according to the coalition. A diverse, bipartisan group of 15 state governors — individually and through the Midwestern Governors Association — has also expressed strong support for the N.B.A.F. in Kansas, along with research universities, institutions and producer groups across the country.

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