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Prepared by: Mike Apley, associate professor of production medicine/clinical pharmacology at Kansas State University, where he also serves as director of PharmCATS Bioanalytical Services, an analytical service laboratory supporting academic and pharmaceutical industry research. He can be contacted at 785-532-4167 or

Monday, Dec. 22, 2008


MANHATTAN -- With the announcement of Kansas State University as the recommended site for the National Bio- and Agro-defense Facility, or NBAF, many Kansans are excited about the facility being a step closer to Manhattan, though others are still questioning the risk of having the facility in our community and state.

I think the issues being considered center on risk versus benefit and who gets which.

All parties in the discussion recognize that a zero-risk facility is not possible. However, the conclusion of my colleagues with the appropriate expertise is that the multiple layers of safeguards built into NBAF make the potential of a release very, very low -- much lower than the risk from international travelers bringing foreign animal diseases to our country. This facility will be operated by experienced, dedicated personnel that recognize the adverse effects of any mishap. Only a select few will be working with the pathogens of concern in a highly controlled, limited access environment.

Some are concerned that the enthusiasm for the facility is based only on short-term economic gain. There is definitely an economic advantage to K-State, the city of Manhattan and the state of Kansas. The benefit to the state doesn't stop at having the world experts in some of these diseases right here in Kansas; it also includes the collaborative opportunities that will strengthen our land-grant university. This is the same university that has educated generations of Kansans and contributed to the survival and success of agriculture in the state. The benefits are much more than short-term to both our agricultural systems and to our sons and daughters.

We all share the risk of a release, but I would propose that we also all share in the benefits of the lab being located in Kansas. What better way to protect and serve the Kansas livestock industry than to put the solution to foreign disease threats in our midst, in collaboration with Kansans serving the Kansas livestock industry.

It is with great respect that I recognize the numerous livestock producers surrounding the community of Manhattan and in the state of Kansas, and the resources and effort invested in their holdings. I would ask all to consider if K-State has had any part in your success, and if this further advancement in livestock research capability might help K-State continue to be a part of your continued success.