In a highly anticipated announcement, the National Academies of Science said that it will release a congressionally mandated report on risk associated with the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) this Friday.
Stalled congressional funding is believed to be linked to the results of this report.
The animal disease laboratory, under construction in Manhattan, Kan., is a project of the Department of Homeland Security.
This latest report is actually an update of the department’s original risk assessment, which was predicated on misguided assumptions and methodology, NAS said. It will deal with whether DHS has adequately addressed risks identified in the original report.
In its original risk assessment, NAS estimated a 70 percent chance of a release of Foot and Mouth Disease, an extremely contagious pathogen that affects cattle, hogs, deer and other cloven-hooved livestock. The Biosecurity Level 4 ag lab also is designed to study deadly Nipah and Hendra viruses, African Swine Fever, and emerging and new animal diseases. Some of those diseases are zoonotic, or transferrable between animals and people.
The report expected Friday is one of two separate NAS reviews.
A second NAS review is looking at whether the current NBAF proposal is necessary and appropriate. The DHS itself requested this review to study options for the proposed lab. Those options include scaling back the existing proposal, collaborating with existing top-security labs, and/or renovating part of The Plum Island Animal Disease Lab off the coast of New York. Plum Island currently is the only Level 4 agriculture lab in the United States.