U.S. Senators Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) today introduced a resolution to recognize the importance of biosecurity and agro-defense to America's national and economic security.
"This resolution will remind my colleagues in Washington that addressing critical vulnerabilities to our food supply and agriculture economy remains a top priority," Roberts said. "As we consider measures to improve biosecurity and protect plant and animal health, I will work hard to ensure that our nation has the best resources to do the job. This includes continuing construction of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) in Manhattan, Kansas and development of the Animal Health Corridor in the Kansas City region. While the federal government must curtail spending, investments in vital projects such as NBAF, which protect the nation's security and economy, must continue to exist."
"The terrorist attacks of 9/11 reminded all Americans that we are vulnerable to those who want to do us harm," Senator Moran said. "Threats to our nation's food supply are among the arsenal that could not only hurt millions of Americans, but also lead to economic chaos. The National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) is the modern, safe, world-class facility the United States needs to protect Americans against biological threats and the devastation they could cause. I remain committed to making certain the construction of NBAF -- an essential part of our national security apparatus -- moves forward."
"We must recognize the importance of biosecurity and agro-defense at a national level, and support continued investments in agriculture research and engineering so farmers and ranchers have the resources they need to stay competitive in the world market," said Senator Blunt. "The NBAF project remains one of my top priorities, and I will continue working to ensure the security of our nation's food supply and agriculture economy."
"I'm pleased to be a part of this resolution which recognizes the importance of biosecurity to our country's safety, and to our agriculture economy across the United States," Senator McCaskill said. "Strengthening our biosecurity and animal health starts with the completion of the facility in Manhattan, Kansas and continues with the development of the Animal Health Corridor in the Kansas City region. I'll continue to work with my colleagues to ensure we accomplish these goals."
The following is the text of the resolution:
"Whereas following the attacks of September 11, 2001, the Nation took notice of the global threat of terrorism;
"Whereas the new reality after the attacks of September 11, 2001, led to an increase of resources focused on combating
attack from the enemies of the United States;
"Whereas Congress established the Department of Homeland Security in 2002 with the intent of meeting the challenges
plaguing our Nation;
"Whereas the attacks made visible the vulnerability of our food supply and agriculture economy;
"Whereas the President of the United States issued a Homeland Security Directive entitled the "Defense of United States Agriculture and Food" on January 30, 2004;
"Whereas the Department of Homeland Security in partnership with the Department of Agriculture recognized the challenges of agroterrorism early on;
Whereas the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism assessed in its 2008 report "World At Risk," "the U.S. government has invested most of its nonproliferation efforts and diplomatic capital in preventing nuclear terrorism. The Commission believes that it should make the more likely threat - bioterrorism - a higher priority. Only by elevating the priority of the biological weapons threat will it be possible to bring about substantial improvements in global biosecurity"; and
Whereas the threat of attack from the enemies of the United States continues and there is much remaining work:
Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That it is the sense of the Senate that --
(1) while the United States continues to combat terrorism in all forms around the world, the safety, security, and health of our livestock and agriculture commodities must not be forgotten;
(2) research and investment in biosecurity and biosafety should remain a top priority for Congress;
(3) providing the resources, both intellectually and materially, for the advancement of vaccines and hopeful eradication of deadly pathogens and emerging zoonotic disease is an integral part of providing homeland defense;
(4) a laboratory capable of handling such deadly diseases is necessary to meet the demand for such resources, and such laboratory should be constructed to the highest standards of safety and security, and should meet the requirements of a biosafety level laboratory;
(5) without the tools necessary to protect the citizens, agriculture economy, and food supply of the United States, the United States remains vulnerable to attack and chaos;
(6) the world depends on the food and fiber that the United States produces;
(7) the world depends on the leadership of the United States in science and technology;
(8) the United States must remain the leader in the fight against bioterrorism; and
(9) biosecurity and agrodefense are achievable goals for the United States in the global war on terrorism."