Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack broke ground Wednesday to officially begin construction of the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) main laboratory structure in Manhattan, Kansas.
"The NBAF laboratory will provide the nation with cutting edge, state-of-the-art, lab capabilities and help protect our food supply and the nation’s public health,” Johnson said. “NBAF addresses a serious vulnerability. The economic impact of a bio agricultural threat – deliberate or natural – could have a substantial effect on the food supply of this Nation and have serious human health consequences. We will soon be able to ensure availability of vaccines and other rapid response capabilities to curb an outbreak. With the NBAF, our nation will have the first Bio Level 4 lab facility of its kind – a state-of-the-art bio-containment facility for the study of foreign animal and emerging diseases.”
When completed and fully operational in 2022, DHS said in an announcement, the $1.25 billion NBAF will be a 570,000 sq.ft, biocontainment facility for the study of foreign animal and emerging zoonotic diseases that threaten animal agriculture and public health in the United States.
“Our new National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility … will help protect our nation’s food supply and public health,” Johnson said earlier in the day at Kansas State University.
“This innovative new facility is capable of producing the research needed to protect our nation’s farmers, food supply, public health and the rural economy. It has been a national priority for USDA, DHS, and our otherpartners as we work to replace aging facilities,” said Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
The NBAF, located in the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor—the largest concentration of animal health companies in the world, will replace the Plum Island Animal Disease Center (PIADC) in New York, providing capabilities that exceed those of PIADC, DHS said.
“Specifically,” DHS said, “NBAF will boast a maximum biocontainment (ABSL-4) laboratory space. The first laboratory facility in the United States of its kind, this facility will allow researchers to study zoonotic diseases that affect livestock and other large animals. Underscoring the need for this research is the knowledge that approximately 75 percent of new and emerging infectious diseases over the last 30 years have been zoonotic diseases.”
“Similar to the work at PIADC, NBAF will be a strategic national asset, providing modern laboratory space for DHS and the United States Department of Agriculture to carry out their unique yet complementary missions,” DHS said. “The key functions of the NBAF laboratory space will include basic research, sample receipt testing and diagnosis, veterinarian training, countermeasures and vaccine candidate development, and vaccine efficacy trials.”