Kansas wins controversial biolab?

Manhattan, Kansas has been chosen as the site for the much-contested $450 million government biolab, which will house research on some of the most highly infectious human and animal pathogens, according to a draft document from the Department of Homeland Security leaked to the press. (Click linkurl:here;http://www2.ljworld.com/documents/2008/dec/03/nbaf-preferred-alternative-selection-memorandum/ for the document, posted by the Lawrence Journal World and News.) The decision on the prospectiv

By | December 4, 2008

Manhattan, Kansas has been chosen as the site for the much-contested $450 million government biolab, which will house research on some of the most highly infectious human and animal pathogens, according to a draft document from the Department of Homeland Security leaked to the press. (Click linkurl:here;http://www2.ljworld.com/documents/2008/dec/03/nbaf-preferred-alternative-selection-memorandum/ for the document, posted by the Lawrence Journal World and News.) The decision on the prospective lab, called the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF), has yet to be finalized by federal officials -- a process which could take a month, the linkurl:Kansas City Star;http://www.kansascity.com/105/story/921286.html reports. However, other sites which have been competing for project -- including facilities in Athens, Ga.; Butner, NC.; Flora, Miss., and San Antonio, TX, -- may not take the news lying down. "Let me just simply say that we're looking at (a challenge) very seriously because we do think we have the best site and we'll proceed accordingly," Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour told the linkurl:AP;http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jmf-rVYLzqr_0u37pjHZ0ceupbWgD94RQ5A81 Wednesday (December 3). Meanwhile, biosecurity experts continue to oppose NBAF, which was proposed in 2006 and will be the largest high-security biocontainment lab in the world, conducting research on pathogens such as foot and mouth disease (FMD), rift valley fever, and anthrax. Richard Ebright, a microbiologist at Rutgers University in New Jersey, summarized his response to the Kansas decision in an email to The Scientist as follows: "###Unsafe. (Foot-and-mouth-disease virus cannot safely be handled at a mainland location.) ###Unnecessary. (No scientific rationale. No scientific purpose. No scientific necessity.) ###A DHS planning failure on par with Katrina. ###Should be terminated by the Obama Administration or the new Congress." NBAF would also replace the aging lab on Plum Island in New York, an island facility off the tip of Long Island to which the country's research on FMD has been relegated since 1955. While Plum Island is a biosafety level (BSL)-3 facility, however, the new lab would be equipped to work on still more dangerous pathogens requiring the highest containment level, BSL-4. An assessment this summer by the Government Accountability Office questioned the safety of positioning such research on the mainland, and experts have noted that several of the proposed sites, including Kansas, are located close to the country's agricultural core, increasing the potential danger posed by a leak. **__Related stories:__** * linkurl: Mainland animal lab poses risks: GAO;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54670/ [22nd May 2008]* linkurl:Pathogen labs lack security: GAO;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/55093/ [16th October 2008]* linkurl:US homeland security to build animal biolab;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/23091/ [6th February 2006]

Comments

Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 9

December 4, 2008

This is crazy. Locate a biosecurity research lab in America's beef country? Someone should let these officials know what happened in the UK several years ago. This is an example of uneducated lobbying gone crazy. I can hear the "I told you so" now.
Avatar of: Lyn winters

Lyn winters

Posts: 3

December 4, 2008

Richard Ebright sums it up 100%. This lab is not necessary, however is another hubris project designed by the Bush Administration's war on they hate us for our freedoms.Geniune research is needed but the trend has been to fund biodefense and all other reserach has been short changed because of it.The recent report out by a bi-partsan commission believes we need fewer labs and fewer scientists. Until we reduce the number of researchers who have assess to the dirty bugs we are playing russia roulette and we are on the last chamber and it is loaded.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 1

December 4, 2008

The location does not sound like a good idea. There is indeed over emphasys on biodefense.
Avatar of: Carlos Romero

Carlos Romero

Posts: 2

December 4, 2008

Enough damage has been made to the economy of this country to now threat our livestock, swine and poultry industries by building an Exotic Animal Pathogen facility near the most suceptible core of animals in the world. The US is not an Island like the UK where natural barriers limit the spread of accidental escape of some of these highly contagious animal agents. States where livestock, swine and poultry populations are dense should NOT (please) be considered as venues for such an enterprise.
Avatar of: Joshua Sloan

Joshua Sloan

Posts: 9

December 8, 2008

I am all for scientific research as long as it is done safely. A BSL-4 lab in the middle of the "beef belt" (to coin a phrase) is a very bad idea, especially if were dealing with something like foot and mouth disease.

Popular Now

  1. Running on Empty
    Features Running on Empty

    Regularly taking breaks from eating—for hours or days—can trigger changes both expected, such as in metabolic dynamics and inflammation, and surprising, as in immune system function and cancer progression.

  2. Athletes’ Microbiomes Differ from Nonathletes
  3. Stomach Cells Change Identity to Drive Precancerous State
  4. Mutation Linked to Longer Life Span in Men
AAAS