“The United States agriculture and food systems are vulnerable to disease, pest, or poisonous agents that occur naturally, are unintentionally introduced, or are intentionally delivered by acts of terrorism. Americas agriculture and food system is an extensive, open, interconnected, diverse, and complex structure providing potential targets for terrorist attacks. We should provide the best protection possible against a successful attack on the United States agriculture and food system, which could have catastrophic health and economic effects.”
– President George W. Bush, Homeland Security Presidential Directive/HSPD-9
________________________________________________________________________________________The state of North Carolina is one of at least five states making bids to be chosen as the site for a $450 million National Bio- and Argo-Defense Facility (NBADF).

The federal government required that submissions of interest be submitted by March 31.

North Carolina State University said Thursday that it was leading a consortium of universities, state agencies, private sector companies and other partners to seek the project.

The NBADF was first proposed in 2004 as part of a Homeland Security directive signed by President Bush. A site is expected to be chosen this summer and construction could begin in 2007.

Media reports say that Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri and Texas want the site. However, talk about the NBAF has already triggered protests in Kentucky and Missouri from private citizens who are concerned about possible exposure to toxins in the event of an accident.

“The National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility will research high-consequence biological threats involving human, zoonotic (i.e., transmitted from animals to humans], and foreign animal diseases,” according to the Department of Homeland Security. The new facility is intended to replace the aging Plum Island federal research complex in New York.

The NBADF is expected to include 500,000 square feet of office and research space, to require some 30 acres of land, and to employ more than 250 research scientists, technicians and support staff.

“North Carolina not only meets the criteria established by the government, but the state also possesses unique leadership strengths in the areas of biomedical, plant and animal agricultural enterprises, and premier science and technology parks,” said Warwick Arden, dean of NC State’s College of Veterinary Medicine. “NC State and its consortium partners provide the veterinary expertise, research science, and national and international contacts needed to successfully contribute to such a large project”

The coalition also includes the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Duke University, North Carolina Central University, Wake Forest University and East Carolina University. NCSU said the group also has the support of several state agencies, private sector firms, federal agencies as well as non-profit groups.

In a statement, Arden pointed out that NCSU has developed “expertise in homeland security issues through its role in the Agriculture Disaster Research Institute, the Animal Biosecurity Risk Management Group, Food Animal Residue Avoidance Database, the USDA Food Safety Research and Response Network, and other food safety and animal disease research.”

For more information about the center, see: www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/display?theme=27&content=4927