A government-backed committee of the National Research Council issued a report Friday giving the Department of Homeland Security two viable options for moving forward on a $1.14 billion biosecurity research lab planned in Kansas.
The study was prepared by a subcommittee formed this spring by the council to look at three options for building the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility that is to be built in Manhattan near the Kansas State University campus.
DHS asked the National Research Council to review the threats of foreign animal disease, the capabilities needed to address those threats and analyze three options. One included keeping the current research at Plum Island.
While the committee found that the need for such a research lab hadn’t changed since the project was first proposed in 2006, it did find that DHS had two options for completing the goal of developing laboratory capabilities to respond to a biosecurity threat. However, the report concluded that both options had drawbacks.
The first would be to continue designing and construct the new lab in Kansas, which would give the United States a large-animal lab with so-called Level 4 security to handle such deadly diseases as foot and mouth. However, because the costs for the project have escalated, the committee suggested DHS look for alternative funding sources. It was noted that such labs have been funded in Australia through industry support.
The second option would be to scale back the size of the project and disburse research of diseases across the country.
A third option, which would leave current research at Plum Island and rely on foreign labs to conduct research and deter threats, was rejected by the committee.
Kansas officials applauded the committee’s report and called on DHS to move forward with acquiring the land in Manhattan and beginning construction.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.