USDA, DHS dedicate agro-defense lab approved in 9/11 aftermath

Two decades after the September 11 attacks shaped American resolve against terror, the federal government dedicated a $1.25 billion agro-defense laboratory in eastern Kansas on Wednesday to protect the U.S. food supply from zoonotic animal diseases. The National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility will conduct research on dangerous livestock diseases, such as foot-and-mouth disease, and develop countermeasures, such as vaccines.

Cost of fighting bird flu outbreaks tops $670 million

The Agriculture Department promotes comprehensive biosecurity measures on the farm as the "best and prudent approach" to combat bird flu outbreaks that have killed 58.6 million birds in domestic flocks in 13 months. The viral disease drove up egg prices during 2022 and, after a respite early this year, egg prices are on the rise again with the approach of Easter.

Avian flu, ‘a continuing threat,’ has claimed 14 million birds

To prevent spread of a deadly poultry disease, the Agriculture Department urged bird owners on Thursday to practice good biosecurity and to consider keeping their birds indoors all day. Fourteen million birds in domestic flocks have died in outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza since Feb. 8.

U.S. gives short shrift to agro-defense and the risk of zoonotic diseases

The average American consumes more than a half-pound of meat each day, yet the country devotes limited thought or funding to protecting its livestock from diseases that could disrupt production or infect humans, said former Sen. Joe Lieberman during a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing.

The long watch for bird flu

After the devastating bird flu epidemic in the Midwest earlier this year, the disease has not been seen in the country since Utah wildlife officials found an infected mallard at Farmington Bay on Great Salt Lake on July 31. State and federal officials are testing thousands of wild birds each month to identify hot spots for the virus as an "early warning" to producers.

Bird-flu plan relies on speedy culling, vaccine on standby

After the "incredible scope" of the worst bird flu epidemic ever to hit the nation earlier this year, the USDA's plan for reducing the risk of an outbreak this fall includes swift culling of infected flocks with a bird-flu vaccine available "as a possible adjunct to, and not a replacement for, a future eradication effort." The usual response to discovery of highly pathogenic avian influenza is to quarantine the affected farm and its surroundings and kill the infected flock to prevent spread of the virus.

Stringent biosecurity crucial in preventing bird flu, says USDA

In an updated report on the worst-ever bird flu epidemic to infect U.S. poultry flocks, the government says "comprehensive and stringent biosecurity practices remain crucial to reducing the risk of HPAI [highly pathogenic avian influenza] infection."

Manage wildlife to reduce bird-flu risk, USDA tells producers

In a new flyer on biosecurity, the USDA tells poultry producers, "The addition of simple wildlife management practices around your farm" can enhance the biosecurity shield against avian influenza.

Biosecurity lapses helped spread of avian influenza epidemic

The worst avian flu epidemic ever to hit U.S. poultry farms was spread in part by lapses in biosecurity among producers as well as "environmental factors," said the government in an initial report on the disease that will depress table egg and turkey production into 2016. USDA's animal health agency said it plans to meet with industry and state officials in July to discuss security standards.

China issues new five-year certificate for its GE rice

The world's largest rice grower and consumer, China, renewed the biosafety certificates for five additional years for two varieties of genetically engineered rice developed within the country, says Reuters.

Rampant fungus in salamanders raises biosecurity issues

Scientists say a fungus that has devastated salamanders in Europe could easily spread to the United States, said the New York Times, quoting researchers who called for stricter biosecurity rules.

Pig blood in feed is unlikely to spread deadly hog disease

The World Organization for Animal Health says pig blood products are unlikely to spread the deadly Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus when used as a feed ingredient.