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U.S. Bio Research & Defense

As time passes, the discussion of "The Risk/Reward Ratio" of BioResearch becomes more interesting and complicated. Last week, while the Senate approved the first $36 million designated for the construction of the National Bio and Agro Defense facility at the campus of Kansas State University, However, the House version of the Appropriations bill for the Department of Homeland Security, omitted that funding. Instead, the House allocated $5 million to fund an independent study the safety of conducting research into Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) at a mainland laboratory.

The differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill still must be resolved during Conference Committee meetings. However, the Kansas delegation is understandably unhappy with the House position.

"The House Appropriations Committee had a responsibility to fund the NBAF, and I am extremely disappointed they shirked that responsibility," said Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan.

Construction on the NBAF facility is currently slated to begin in November 2010. That date could be in jeopardy if the funding isn't resolved. However, a number of issues continue to circle this project, including the Government Accountability Office position that the DHS risk analysis of conducting FMD research on the mainland was flawed, as well as the GAO's rejection of a DHS environmental assessment for the lab. And then there is the issue of natural disasters and violent weather. Unfortunately, when so much is at stake (the total amount of the funding, the economic development impact for the region and most importantly, National defense and safety), politics and bioresearch come together.

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