A federal statement released Friday could be good news for supporters of moving an infectious disease research center from New York to Kansas.
In a draft environmental impact statement, the General Services Administration supported the sale of Plum Island Animal Disease lab, home to the only U.S. laboratory studying such diseases among large animals.
Although Friday’s report didn’t mention the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility slated for Manhattan, Kan., the Department of Homeland Security is moving forward with plans to open the $1.14 billion facility as a replacement for the aging Plum Island lab.
The NBAF site, on the campus of Kansas State University, won a highly competitive bid for the lab in 2006.
A committee of the National Research Council last week released a report that characterized the Plum Island facility as inadequate to meet the needs of protecting the U.S. food supply. The NRC report supported building NBAF and said no amount of money could bring the Plum Island lab up to the necessary safety standards.
Friday’s GSA report didn’t site a sale figure for Plum Island or if any of the proceeds would be directed to the NBAF.
Plum Island was handed over from the Army to the Agriculture Department in the mid 50’s with the express purpose of studying Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in cattle. FMD is a dangerously contagious virus that affects cloven hooved (split hooved) livestock such as cattle, pork, and sheep.
Opponents of the NBAF and some experts have said building a lab to study Foot and Mouth Disease in the heart of cattle country is not wise.