The controversial animal disease research laboratory, Plum Island Animal Disease Center, located on the relatively remote island off the tip of Long Island will be moving to the heartland of America, Manhattan, Kansas, sometime on or around 2014.
The National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) will be planted on Kansas State University and according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), it will not be a laboratory of bioweapons saying that anthrax, plague, ebola and smallpox will NOT be studied there at the proposed state of the art BSL-4 lab. Ok, I’ll take the DHS at their word for the moment because my concern is not human pathogens, but animal pathogens.
There are eight animal and livestock diseases that will be studied at the facility; Nipah virus, Hendra virus, African swine fever, Rift Valley fever, Japanese Encephalitis virus, Foot and Mouth disease (FMD), Classical Swine fever and Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia.
So being in the heartland of America where there is hundreds of thousands if not millions of cattle and swine, based on previous safety and security issues from Plum Island and other facilities, how can we be sure that this will not devastate our food supply and economy?
I want to focus on Foot and Mouth Disease.