Accelerating Food Safety Research

Key agriculture groups and veterinary experts have sent a clear message to Congress in recent days: America must move forward without delay on a planned state-of-the-art research facility to protect the food supply and agriculture economy.

In supporting full FY2010 funding for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) in line with President Obama’s budget request, the groups are emphasizing the urgency of the research mission.

American Farm Bureau Federation: "The security of America’s food supply and agricultural economy is of paramount importance, not only to farmers and ranchers but also to every U.S. citizen. The NBAF offers an opportunity for the integrated research, development, testing and evaluation that will provide needed solutions to natural and deliberate biothreats against agriculture and public health. Furthermore, it will keep American agriculture competitive and allow us to regain our position as a world leader in advanced diagnostic capabilities."

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association: "We are pleased that a site [for the NBAF] was finally chosen, and we support its immediate construction. Every day that NBAF is delayed, America’s livestock producers are at risk . . . Foreign animal disease research, diagnostics, and control are complex and multifaceted, but with this new facility, we can continue to protect America’s livestock, livestock producers, and consumers."

California Farm Bureau Federation: "We believe that it is imperative to move forward with building this facility [at Kansas State University] to research high-consequence biological threats involving zoonotic and foreign animal diseases."

In addition, W. Ron DeHaven, DVM, MBA, executive vice president and CEO of the American Veterinary Medical Association, weighed in on the critical importance of accelerating research.

"Today, there is an urgent need to take the highly successful Centers for Disease Control and Prevention model for human disease diagnostics and research and apply it to animal disease diagnostics and research that will preserve a safe, healthy food supply and a sustainable, successful agriculture infrastructure," DeHaven said.

"Momentum [on the NBAF] must continue without delay if we are serious about food safety and public health in America. The result will be nothing less than another crown jewel of American science — in essence, a CDC for animal health."

These views join those of a national coalition of public- and private-sector NBAF proponents and subject-matter experts that has emerged since 2006. Individually and through the Midwestern Governors Association, a diverse, bipartisan group of 15 state governors has expressed strong support for the NBAF in Kansas, along with research universities, institutions, and producer groups across the country.

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