Wednesday, August 27, 2008

National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility

One of the new BSL-4 labs in the USA will be associated with a proposed federal animal disease research laboratory. The proposed National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) would research high-consequence biological threats involving zoonotic and foreign animal diseases. There are six sites that are still in the running:

Athens, Georgia
Manhattan, Kansas
Flora, Mississippi
Plum Island, New York
Butner, North Carolina
San Antonio, Texas

The new lab will essentially replace the current Plum Island animal disease center, which does not have a BSL-4 lab. One option is to build it on the Plum Island site but the cost of this is much higher.

Choosing the location for the facility is creating some tension between the local residents, who don't want the lab and local politicians, businesses and universities who do want the lab, either for the research possibilities it would provide or the money and jobs it would provide, or both. The average cost for the six finalists is $721 million. Residents in Athens, Georgia who don't want the lab there have a very active website, as do opponents of the lab in North Carolina and Kansas. What do you think? Is this just nimbyism? FYI, the University of California submitted an 'expression of interest' in hosting the lab but was not invited to submit a full proposal by the Department of Homeland Security. UC's plan was to build the lab at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

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