No bio-defense lab for N.C.; government recommends Kansas site

The New York Times has the story:

Government Recommends Kansas for Biodefense Lab
Published: December 3, 2008
Filed at 6:42 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON (AP)—The government has recommended a site in Kansas for a new $450 million laboratory to study biological threats such as anthrax and foot-and-mouth disease, officials said Wednesday.

The Homeland Security Department’s choice of Manhattan, in central Kansas, beat out intense competition from sites in Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina and Texas.

Agency officials disclosed their decision to several lawmakers late Tuesday, according to lawmakers and staff familiar with the briefings. The officials spoke only on condition of anonymity because an announcement will not come until later this week.

The choice is not final until sometime after a 30-day period for comments on the decision, which could face legal challenges from losing states.

A North Carolina group, the Granville Non-Violent Action Team (GNAT) worked to “stop the proposed National Bio Agro Defense Facility (NBAF) lab, which would bring a number of foreign animal diseases to a site on the Umstead Research Farm in Butner for study, including some known to be transferrable to humans.”

GNAT has argued that the facility represents a significant biohazard to the surrounding community if placed on the mainland, rather than on an island or other isolated location.

In an earlier story, Mountain Xpress reported that North Carolina was being considered as the future site for the lab.

— Jeff Fobes

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About Jeff Fobes
As a long-time proponent of media for social change, my early activities included coordinating the creation of a small community FM radio station to serve a poor section of St. Louis, Mo. In the 1980s I served as the editor of the "futurist" newsletter of the U.S. Association for the Club of Rome, a professional/academic group with a global focus and a mandate to act locally. During that time, I was impressed by a journalism experiment in Mississippi, in which a newspaper reporter spent a year in a small town covering how global activities impacted local events (e.g., literacy programs in Asia drove up the price of pulpwood; soybean demand in China impacted local soybean prices). Taking a cue from the Mississippi journalism experiment, I offered to help the local Green Party in western North Carolina start its own newspaper, which published under the name Green Line. Eventually the local party turned Green Line over to me, giving Asheville-area readers an independent, locally focused news source that was driven by global concerns. Over the years the monthly grew, until it morphed into the weekly Mountain Xpress in 1994. I've been its publisher since the beginning. Mountain Xpress' mission is to promote grassroots democracy (of any political persuasion) by serving the area's most active, thoughtful readers. Consider Xpress as an experiment to see if such a media operation can promote a healthy, democratic and wise community. In addition to print, today's rapidly evolving Web technosphere offers a grand opportunity to see how an interactive global information network impacts a local community when the network includes a locally focused media outlet whose aim is promote thoughtful citizen activism. Follow me @fobes

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