Archive for Wednesday, January 17, 2007

State begins push to land bio center

January 17, 2007

— Kansas is putting forward a full-court press to land the proposed National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, whether it be in Leavenworth County or Manhattan.

Early next month, state officials are expected to introduce a team of Kansas political heavyweights that likely will include former U.S. Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman and former Gov. John Carlin to coordinate Kansas' effort to secure the multimillion-dollar facility in the state, said Tom Thornton, president and chief executive officer of the Kansas Bioscience Authority.

The news comes about a week after the governor talked about the facility in her annual State of the State address and a U.S. senator arranged for a group of federal officials to come to Kansas to learn about the state's bioagriculture industry.

Five months ago, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said 18 sites in 11 states - including the Leavenworth County site at 155th Street and Coffin Road, immediately west of the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth - had made the first cut in the competition to land the facility. It would employ about 250 scientists in a 500,000-square-foot, $451 million facility that includes a Biosafety Level 4 laboratory, the highest level of biosafety.

The U.S. Homeland Security, Agriculture and Health and Human Services departments would jointly operate the lab. Its mission would include modernizing the nation's efforts to combat foreign animal diseases, such as foot-and-mouth disease in cattle, and animal diseases that can infect humans, such as bird flu, anthrax and mad cow disease. The lab also would work to develop drugs, vaccines and other countermeasures against such diseases.

For more on this story, pick up the Jan. 18 edition of The Current.

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