D.H.S. eyes Kansas as site for new biodefense facility

by FoodBusinessNews.net Staff
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MANHATTAN, KAS. — The Department of Homeland Security, as part of its "Final Environmental Impact Statement," has recommended Manhattan as the site for the new National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility. The N.B.A.F. will replace the Plum Island (N.Y.) facility, the federal government’s current location for animal disease research.

A final record of decision will be issued Jan. 12, 2009, following a comment period.

"This facility, once built, will help us to protect our livestock industry, food supply, and public health from the accidental or intentional introduction of a foreign animal or zoonotic disease in the U.S.," said Jay Cohen, undersecretary for science and technology at the D.H.S. "The assessment process was extensive, engaging experts within and without the government as well as each potential site community, and this final report carefully weighs the input from all interested parties."

Manhattan is one of six locations under consideration for the facility. The other sites are Athens, Ga.; Madison County, Miss.; Granville County, N.C.; San Antonio and Plum Island.

News that Manhattan has been selected as the site was lauded by the state’s representatives.

"Manhattan, Kansas State University and the State of Kansas have proven that we are the nation’s leaders in plant and animal research and industry, and I am proud of the role Kansas will continue to play in agriculture security and innovation," said Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas. "This N.B.A.F. will protect and build the state’s agriculture economy for decades to come and further expand our national leadership in the biosciences."

Jon Wefald, president of Kansas State University, said the announcement "might very well be the most important thing that has happened to Kansas State University in the entire history of the university."

"Never before in the history of Kansas has a national federal laboratory of this magnitude been sited in the state," Mr. Wefald said. "We are talking about a half-billion dollar animal health facility that will be the finest laboratory of its kind in the entire world."

Design of the $450 million facility is expected to begin in 2009, with plans for construction to start in 2010. It is expected the N.B.A.F. would be operational by 2015.

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