I read the Great Bend Tribune article: “NBAF cordinator visits Great Bend” (Aug 8. issue). It is welcome news that the National Bio and Agri-defense Facility (or NBAF) will be built in Manhattan to replace the aging Plum Island Animal Disease Center in New York. In my view: Anything on the east or west coast is vulnerable to attack; and having the facility located in the same city as Kansas State University in Manhattan is a distinct benefit.
Furthermore, I am also relieved that jurisdictional control of the facility will shift from Homeland Security to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This is how it should be in my opinion. The Department of Homeland Security is already overburdened with checking our skies, our roads and our ports for terrorists. Since this is mainly an Animal Disease Center, it just makes better ‘common-sense’ to have operational control by the Department of Agriculture. Their oversight is keener and obviously their response time should be faster in the event of a crisis.
Agroterrorism is bound to be a growing threat. And, monitoring animal diseases and other infectious diseases which may affect animals and humans alike won’t be an easy task. New research will have to be ongoing. Having such a facility in America’s heartland simply is wise, especially in light of global threats from North Korea, China and elsewhere.
The addition of jobs created for this facility is a bonus which I applaud. However, I am more thrilled about the location of the new NBAF Facility. I hope it will be securely guarded and those who work there will discharge their duties faithfully. The safety of humans and animals alike in the United States and the rest of the world, as well as guaranteeing a safe and efficient food-supply, may hinge on it.
Bio-Security, Agro-Security, is becoming just as tricky as Cyber-security. Once you feel enough ‘protections’ are there, then hackers, spies, and people of evil-intent manage to circumvent the safeguards. Eternal vigilance for NBAF will be the key to its success. I pray it achieves its goal in Kansas.
James A. Marples