National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility: Issues for Congress [Updated April 3, 2008]   [open pdf - 151KB]

"The agricultural and food infrastructure of the United States is potentially susceptible to terrorist attack using biological pathogens. In addition to the impacts of such an attack on the economy, some animal diseases could potentially be transmitted to humans. (These diseases are known as zoonotic diseases.) Scientific and medical research on plant and animal diseases may lead to the discovery and development of new diagnostics and countermeasures, reducing the risk and impact of a successful terrorist attack. The plans announced by DHS to establish the NBAF have raised several issues. Community concerns about safety and security, previously raised about PIADC and other laboratories being built to study dangerous pathogens, are also being raised about the NBAF. Coordination between DHS and USDA, as well as prioritization and investment in agricultural biodefense may be reassessed once more high containment laboratory space becomes available. By law, research on live foot and mouth disease (FMD) virus is not permitted on the U.S. mainland. This policy would need to be changed before DHS could conduct FMD research at NBAF if it were sited on the U.S. mainland. Bills (H.R. 1717, H.R. 2419, and the Senate amendment to H.R. 2419) modifying this policy are being considered by in the 110th Congress."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL34160
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