NBAF status remains unclear after new risk assessment

The National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility project moved into a critical phase this week with the recent release of a new report saying the plans for the laboratory have improved since 2010 but are still not acceptable.

The National Research Council's report, which was issued to Congress, says that despite improvements in the original risk assessment, the plans for the biosafety level 4 facility underestimate the risks of pathogen release and infection and inadequately characterize the uncertainties of those risks, reports.

It is unclear whether the NRC report will delay the eventual construction of the facility in Manhattan, Kansas.

Senators Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), as well as the state's governor, Sam Brownback, have joined together to ask the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to release funding so building can begin on the central facilities plant.

Roberts and Senators Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) recently wrote a separate letter to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano urging the facility's swift construction. They said the issue at stake was not just agricultural, but had direct implications the security of the United States.

If completed, the NBAF would be the world's fourth BSL-4 laboratory capable of conducting large animal research on some of the deadliest pathogens on the planet, according to