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USDA still backs Kansas facility

Catharine Woteki

Catharine Woteki
The Agriculture Department continues to back the construction of a National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan, Kan., despite the release of a National Academy of Sciences study Friday that found a risk assessment conducted by the Homeland Security Department to be inadequate, a key USDA official said today.

“To protect both our national security and our food supply, it is vitally important that the United States have this facility, devoted to conducting research on, and developing countermeasures for, exotic animal diseases that could be devastating to our people and our economy,” Agriculture Undersecretary for Research, Education and Economics Catherine Woteki said today.

“We will continue advising DHS throughout the design of the facility — as we have done at every step of the design process for NBAF in response to previous assessments — to develop mitigations that address the site-specific risks pointed out in the NAS report,” Woteki said. “Leaving our nation without its own BSL-4 facility to answer the urgent needs of safeguarding our country's health in the event of an outbreak should not be an option.”