No NBAF in Kansas

Real Biosecurity for the Heartland

Comparison with Other Country Labs Inaccurate

Posted by nonbafks on August 11, 2008

The study cited the experience of three countries around the world in working with FMD—Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. While the study cited Australia as a foreign precedent, it noted that Australia has not conducted any FMD work on the mainland. In fact, Australia—by law—does not allow any FMD work on the mainland. In this respect, it is even more restrictive than the United States. Australia maintains a ban on live virus FMD work at all its laboratories, whether on mainland, island, or peninsula, including the laboratory at Geelong—considered by many to be the premier laboratory in the world in terms of state-of-the-art animal containment technology. Australia mitigates the risk FMD poses to its livestock by outsourcing its FMD work to other countries.34

The Canadian laboratory at Winnipeg was not in operation at the time of the 2002 study and is not appropriately compared to the U.S. situation. Canada has decided to conduct FMD work on the mainland. However, it is in a downtown location where there is little likelihood that susceptible animals will be in the immediate neighborhood. In addition, its scope of work for FMD is smaller than the present FMD work at the PIADC facility or the proposed facility. The proposed U.S. sites are potentially more likely to pose a risk, given their closer proximity to susceptible animal populations.

The 2002 study used the U.K. Pirbright facility as an example of a precedent for allowing FMD work on the mainland. The study participants could not have known in 2002, however, that an accidental release of FMD virus at the Pirbright facility in 2007 led directly to eight separate outbreaks of FMD on farms surrounding the Pirbright laboratory. This fact highlights the risks of release from a laboratory that is in close proximity to susceptible animals and provides the best evidence in favor of an island location.

Finally, the study did not consider the German and Danish situations. For example, all FMD work with large animals in Germany is restricted to Riems, an island just off the northeastern coast of Germany in the Baltic Sea.35 FMD work in Germany was originally restricted to the island in the1910s. During the post-World War II period, when Riems was controlled by East Germany, West Germany maintained a separate mainland facility for its FMD research, but after re-unification, Germany again decided to restrict all FMD research to Riems and disestablished the mainland facility. Construction is currently under way to expand the facility on the island at Riems.

Similarly, Denmark restricts all FMD work to the National Veterinary Institute Department of Virology, on the island of Lindholm. The Danish government has recently made a further commitment to Lindholm and has rebuilt a new BSL-3 Ag laboratory exclusively for FMD work on the island.

35 The character of the island has changed over time. Whereas in the past, it could only be reached by boat or suspended cablecar, since 1971 it is connected to the mainland by a causeway. For ecological reasons this has been interrupted in late 2007 by construction of a roadbridge so that access to the island is still possible.

34Australia contracts, for example, with laboratories in Thailand for its live FMD research and challenge work.

 Source: Page 21, GAO-08-821T 

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