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NBAF summit convenes, focuses on serving animal health and food safety

Friday, June 26, 2015

 


MANHATTAN — On June 23-24, 150 key leaders met in Manhattan, Kansas, to discuss the future research activities and operations of the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility, or NBAF.

"Pioneering Partnerships with NBAF: A summit with livestock producers and the animal health industry about science, synergy and security" was an industry-focused, invitation-only summit. It provided a centralized location for livestock producers, animal health industry leaders, researchers and policymakers to start discussions about how NBAF will work with the community and develop a strong working relationship between government and industry before the federal laboratory begins its operations.

Participants shared their ideas, recommendations and needs for research and development, collaborations, communications and policy during the summit. Virtual tours of the NBAF site and Kansas State University's Biosecurity Research Institute at Pat Roberts Hall also were given.

As a way to expand the conversation, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security added NBAF to its Science and Technology National Conversation series. The bio/agrosecurity-focused topic is designed to build on the dialog begun at the summit. The series is available at http://scitech.ideascale.com/a/oagesibioagro.

The summit included keynote speeches by Catherine Woteki, undersecretary for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Research, Education and Economics mission area and the department's chief scientist, and Christina Murata, chief of staff for the Science and Technology Directorate of the Department of Homeland Security.

In her keynote, Woteki said many health, food and natural resource-related issues are coming together to create a perfect storm for agriculture, so NBAF will be a frontline in animal health and food safety.

"According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about three-quarters of recently emerging infectious diseases that are affecting people are diseases of animal origin, and approximately 60 percent of all human pathogens are zoonotic," Woteki said. "Animals and foods of animal origin can be vectors for the transmission of these diseases, so there are implications for food safety."

Murata spoke about the importance of having partners at the federal, state and local government levels as well as at the academia, industry and international levels to ensure NBAF fully addresses the nation's needs in animal health and food safety.

"The pace of technology and the pace of new threats have changed," Murata said. "On the threat side, globalization, climate change and deforestation are leading to increasing numbers of new diseases at rates never seen before that impact both human and animal health."

The summit also introduced a highly networked system for the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of infectious diseases. The Bio/Agro Security Innovation System, or BASIS, is designed to enhance public and private sector collaboration by leveraging the capabilities of government, industry and academic partners in the network. Through the network, vaccines and other technologies can be introduced more quickly into the marketplace, a skilled animal health workforce can be trained, and the regional economy can be stimulated.

"There was a clear consensus that it cannot be business as usual if BASIS is going to succeed with government and industry working together effectively to solve animal health problems," said Ron Trewyn, Kansas State University's NBAF liaison. "To do so, current processes must be streamlined and communications must improve, but fortunately everyone at the summit wants it to work, and significant assets are in place in Manhattan and in the region to allow this effort to flourish."

The summit is the first in a series designed to bring together NBAF's key stakeholders.

NBAF is the Department of Homeland Security's foremost animal disease research facility. The $1.25 billion facility is a biosafety level-4 laboratory that will research emerging, high-consequence livestock diseases. NBAF is expected to be fully operational by 2022 or 2023.

Keynotes from Woteki and Murata can be viewed on Kansas State University's YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/KState.

Written by

Greg Tammen
785-532-4486
gtammen@k-state.edu

At a glance

One-hundred and fifty key leaders met in Manhattan, Kansas, to discuss the future research activities and operations of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, or NBAF.

Notable quote

"The pace of technology and the pace of new threats have changed. On the threat side, globalization, climate change and deforestation are leading to increasing numbers of new diseases at rates never seen before that impact both human and animal health."

 

— Christina Murata, chief of staff for the Science and Technology Directorate of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security