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Kansas State University
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Manhattan, KS 66506
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Prepared by: Dan Richardson, CEO, K-State Olathe Innovation Campus, 913-541-1220, dcrceo@kstateoic.ksu.edu

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

OP-ED: PUTTING NATIONAL BIO AND AGRO-DEFENSE FACILITY AT K-STATE WILL ADD TO REGIONAL SYNERGY IN THE BIOSCIENCES

MANHATTAN -- For generations, Kansas farmers have cultivated the state's natural resources to feed the nation. This legacy has gained Kansans a reputation for being reliable and resourceful when it comes to anything related to agriculture.

Today, it extends beyond the field and into the scientific realm. Farmers and ranchers, working with the state's scientists, make sure they're using the most current methods to get the job done and to protect their livelihood from the latest threat.

That relationship has created a region burgeoning with bioscience activity. From agricultural research taking place at Kansas State University to the more than 125 animal health companies along the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor – the expertise is here.

In early 1999, K-State launched the Homeland Defense Food Safety Security and Emergency Preparedness Program. K-State has been an active collaborator in the U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded Food Safety Consortium, created the National Agricultural Biosecurity Center in 2002 and, more recently, added the Biosecurity Research Institute at Pat Roberts Hall.

As it stands today, more than 150 K-State faculty and staff are active in the food safety and animal health arenas and more than $70 million has been invested in related research since 1999.

K-State recently took its commitment to protecting the food supply to the next level by establishing the K-State Olathe Innovation Campus. Those in the Kansas City region are now able to directly tap K-State's pool of expertise in the agricultural, food safety and animal health arenas. This will undoubtedly lead to new collaborative and commercial partnerships, which will have innumerable benefits.

This coordinated campaign to protect the nation's food supply has long been a priority at K-State, which is why it's no surprise that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has put it on the short list of potential sites for the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility.

The facility is a federal-level biocontainment laboratory charged with heading off the biological threats facing livestock and the U.S. food supply. The Department of Homeland Security is building the lab to fill a gap in the nation's defense against foreign animal disease threats, whether introduced accidentally or as an act of bioterrorism. The work this facility will do is critical to protecting public health.

Building the facility in Manhattan will put K-State's resources at the fingertips of federal researchers, and vice versa. Collaboration will more quickly render viable solutions to today's animal and agricultural disease problems so that America prospers as a whole. The new facility also will attract scientists from around the world interested in protecting the food supply; surely these combined resources cannot be ignored.

The National Bio and Agro-defense Facility will not only complement the work already taking place in the region, it will strengthen the already booming bioscience industry in Kansas.

When you consider K-State's extensive agricultural heritage and its central location, as well as a region that is clearly committed in its actions to grow the biosciences, Kansas simply rises to the top.