Image: NOBIO.ORG

Image: NOBIO.ORG

Updated 7:00 PM EST | The latest GAO report regardng the National Bio and Agro Defense Facility(NBAF) has been released, you can find it here.

The legislative wrangling over intial funding for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) may have hit a brick wall if you believe the latest findings in a Government Accountability Office (GAO) draft report obtained by the Washington Post. This report marks the second time the GAO found “Homeland Security’s risk analysis for the NBAF was not “scientifically defensible”, for any mainland site not just Kansas’ tornado alley.

The NBAF despite what you read in mainstream media, will be the largest BSL 4 AG facility in the world. This sets this facility apart from all other BSL4 facilities now operational including the CDC. Why? The NBAF will conduct research on a wide variety of large animals according to the DHS’s own documents as many as 30,192 animals total. (See pages 329-343 of the Feasibility Study) Conducting research on a 1400+ lbs. animal poses unique challenges not found at any facility currently operational in the US. Moreover, FMD can be carried out of the lab in many ways even in the researchers lungs and it will only take that ONE mistake.

FMDV can be found in all secretions and excretions from acutely infected animals, including expired air, saliva, milk, urine, feces and semen. Pigs, in particular, produce large quantities of aerosolized virus.

 In humans, FMDV may be carried in the nasal passages for a period of time.

Highly contagious animal diseases like foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) are often referred “economic diseases” because of the economic harm they can cause, i.e., Crimson sky. Ironically, Kansas’ own Senator Roberts participated in the government exercise, so he knows first hand what is at stake. Consider England’s FMD outbreak;

 What do we know now? This one mistake cost the UK billions, citizens their lively-hoods and millions of animals were slaughtered, (culled) some animals were infected, others were not infected but, were slaughtered (culled) to stop the spread of the disease, as would be the case surrounding a FMD release from the NBAF. Given the fact that a lab was the known source of the leak (through DNA sequencing, a genetic match of the virus type was made) not a terrorism attack or a natural occurrence of FMD, should this not bring the risk of an accidental release front and center in the debate instead of a justification for such a facility? Citizens deserve accurate information.

There are many other things about the NBAF, DHS didn’t disclose in their site visits; but you can find it in the NBAF Feasibilty Study obtained through a FOIA request.

SCIF Room

The NBAF will have a SCIF room which states for Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility. “There are SCIFs in the U.S. Capitol, where members of the U.S. Congress are briefed on military secrets. In U.S. nuclear labs, computers that store weapons data are housed inside SCIFs. Components of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, such as the new National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center (NBACC) (Click here to view a Power Point Presentation on the NBACC at Fort Detrick, Maryland) have or will have SCIFs.” 

 Why is this in an Ag facility?

The NBAF will house an Insectary

From 2-2 of the DEIS

Supporting laboratory modules to include insectary spaces necessary to support the research. The BSL-2 insectary is for the combined functions of breeding, rearing, manipulating, and holding/incubating of arthropod vectors used in the research programs. Other insectary research spaces within BSL-3E and BSL-3Ag would be used for holding infected live insects or arthropods and for virus transmission studies to and from both infected and non-infected large animals and small animals.

In the event of an accidental release of any infected or contaminated  insects from the insectary, DHS proposes wide spread aerial spraying of pesticides to contain the spread of disease. Are you aware Lyme’s disease and West Nile Virus both originated very near Plum Island Animal Disease Center, the facility the NBAF will replace. See (Table 2.5.1-2, Page 2-42 and Paragraph 3 last sentence page 3-218 of the Draft Enviromental Impact Statement). Read Page D-9 for more.

The NBAF will research Avian Flu and Newcastle Disease

On page 161 of the Feasibility Study under “Program – Detailed Space List”  Avian Influenza has 2 rooms dedicated to it with a total of 1344 square feet, Newcastle disease is also mentioned. It is a NEPA violation to not have these “new” viruses listed as part of the Environmental Impact Study. Remember DHS only list 8 diseases,why were these virues excluded?

The opposition to NBAF has grown

In recent weeks the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF USA) and the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) came out strong against the NBAF due to the risk associated with food and mouth, the opposition has been a focal point for their groups on Capital Hill.
“The U.S. Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) has been extremely concerned about any possibility of introducing infectious disease into the continental United States. An event like this would be catastrophic to the livestock industry,” commented Jon Wooster, President. “The health and environmental risks associated with moving this research laboratory to America’s heartland present a serious and unnecessary threat to U.S. agriculture.”
 USCA’s position, mirrors ongoing concerns expressed by the North Carolina based non-profit, the Granville Non Violent Action Team (GNAT). GNAT’s, efforts were credited for N.C. elimination as the facility’s final location.  In September of last year GNAT joined with other biodefense watchdog groups throughout the U.S. whose communties were in the midst of the former Bush Administration’s massive proliferation of “biodefense” laboratories. The coalition appealed to Congressional leaders for an investigation regarding the current expansion of the United States bio- defense program due to the program’s lack of comprehensive oversight, transparency and accountability. The allied groups also called on Congress for an immediate halt to development of new biodefense facilities and an operational stand-down of existing programs until the many serious questions have been resolved.

Ironically, a hearing scheduled for today concerning the NBAF by the Energy and Commerce, Oversight and Investigations regarding the latest findings by the GAO, was at the last minute postponed. The showdown between DHS and the GAO over their recent report should highlight the hubris not science used in this process, thus the blanket safety considerations given by DHS. Keep in mind the NBAF final design has yet to be completed. Everything regarding safety thus far has been supposition. This isn’t about Kansas, Texas or North Carolina  if an accident occurs the entire US economy will suffer.

In closing, consider the words of  Jon Wooster, President of the The U.S. Cattlemen’s Association (USCA).

“Livestock commerce would be paralyzed if an outbreak occurred,” said Wooster. “As a result, markets would plummet and cattle producers throughout the country would suffer irrevocable harm.”

Wooster continued, “The U.S. Cattlemen’s Association has made this issue a focal point on Capitol Hill and we’ve worked diligently with legislators asking that they reconsider construction of a new research facility in the continental U.S. We thank the House of Representatives for taking this step to protect U.S. cattle producers.”

 “I urge cattle producers to contact their U.S. Senators and encourage them to take a strong position to oppose funding the new National Bio and Agro Defense Facility,” noted Wooster. “This is no time to be complacent about the threats this facility, in its planned location, would present to our industry.”

Enough said? Read the latest GAO report before you decide.

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