NRC study will examine potential alternatives to NBAF

A blue-ribbon panel at the National Research Council began a study on Friday to determine possible alternatives to the controversial National Bio & Agro-Defense Facility.

The study began during the committee's first public meeting on the subject last Friday. The committee will examine scientific alternatives for foreign zoonotic and animal disease research laboratories in the United States. While Manhattan, Kan., is the current proposed location for the NBAF, fears of potential pathogen leaks and budgetary problems have halted construction, Feed Stuffs reports.

The NBAF would study diseases that could be transmitted between animals and people and foreign animal diseases. The facility would be the fourth Biosafety Level-4 pathogen facility able to handle large-animal research and would replace the Plum Island Animal Disease Center in New York.

"(We) will look at different options that could meet the animal health, public health and food security needs of the U.S.," the NRC said, according to Feed Stuffs. "These include building NBAF as currently designed, building a scaled-back version of NBAF and maintaining current capabilities at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center while leveraging BSL-4 capacity of foreign laboratories."

The NRC is the operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering. It is a nonprofit, independent institution providing technological and scientific advice under a congressional charter the academy was granted in 1863.