Obama proposes additional money for African biosecurity

President Obama this week added a proposal to the 2012 budget that would set aside $260 million in additional Department of Defense funds to upgrade security for research facilities in Africa.

The funds would be applied to research centers in Kenya, Uganda and other African nations that inadequately secure buildings that store deadly pathogens, according to Examiner.com.

Government officials fear that these facilities, which contain deadly pathogens like Ebola, anthrax and Rift Valley Fever, are vulnerable to terrorist organizations break-ins, Examiner.com reports.  Once in the hands of a terrorist group, these agents could be used as powerful bioweapons.

The proposal comes in the wake of Indiana Senator Richard Lugar’s visit to African research facilities last November, where he discovered first-hand the insufficient security that surrounds these buildings.

One of the laboratories had a “short concrete wall topped with barbed wire as the only security barrier,” Lugar said, according to Examiner.com.

Furthermore, a Ugandan Animal Research center was found to have broken windows and a ripped chain-linked fence.

The proposal comes after Congress, as part of last week’s 2011 continuing resolution, approved $40 million that will allow construction on the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan, Kansas, to begin. The facility, expected to open in 2018, will conduct research on deadly and highly infectious animal diseases.