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Report: DHS Lacks Evidence To Conclude That Foot-and-Mouth Disease Research Can Be Done Safely On Mainland

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

(American Meat Institute)

The Department of Homeland Security has neither conducted nor commissioned any study to determine whether work on food-and-mouth disease (FMD) can be done safely on the U.S. mainland, instead relying on a 2002 United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) study that addressed a different question, according to a report released by the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO).


During testimony on Capitol Hill last week, GAO investigators said that the Administration relied on a flawed study to conclude the research could safely be moved to a planned, state-of-the-art facility near commercial livestock. 


While the disease does not sicken humans, an outbreak on the U.S. mainland — avoided since 1929 — could have significant economic consequences.


FMD research has been confined since 1955 to the 840-acre Plum Island, N.Y., off the northeastern tip of Long Island. The facility there is outmoded and will be replaced by a National Bio-and-Agro-Defense Facility that also will study diseases that can be transferred from animals to humans.


While Plum Island is being considered as a location for the new site, Homeland Security officials are also spending considerable time and money holding forums at the mainland locations to convince residents the new lab would be safe.

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