The proposed National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) is necessary to meet the requirements of Homeland Security Presidential Directive 9 (HSPD-9). The NBAF would be an integrated facility for studying diseases categorized as foreign animal diseases and zoonotic diseases (diseases transmitted from animals to humans.)
The modern, high-security NBAF would enhance our nation's capacity to assess potential threats to humans and animals alike. The NBAF would:
- serve as a unique Biosafety Level (BSL) 3 and BSL-4 livestock laboratory capable of developing countermeasures for foreign animal diseases that are currently investigated at the aging Plum Island Animal Disease Center
- provide advanced test and evaluation (T&E) capability for threat detection, vulnerability, and countermeasure assessment for animal and zoonotic diseases (DHS); and
- support licensure of vaccine and other countermeasures developed jointly by the USDA's Agricultural Research Center (ARS) and DHS.
Plum Island Animal Disease Center currently performs much of this research but is nearing the end of its lifecycle and is too small to meet the nation's research needs. The mission of the Department of Homeland Security, USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and USDA-ARS are expanding to meet the needs of the nation and there is physically not enough room in the Plum Island Facility. In addition Plum Island does not have BSL-4 capabilities to meet the expanding mission's research needs, or to be prepared for future needs
Necessity for Biosafety Level 4 Laboratory Space
BSL-4 space provides the additional protection needed for researchers to study zoonotic diseases such as the Nipah and Hendra viruses, which affect both livestock and humans.
Approximately 10% of the net square footage of the facility will be BSL-4. This will allow the researchers the opportunity to examine diseases that have not been thoroughly characterized before.
No other facility in the world is equipped to answer these as yet unanswered questions regarding diseases that put the livestock and the people of the United States at risk.