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Planned US bio-lab is riskier than officials say

The risks associated with holding foot and mouth disease (FMD) virus at a proposed animal disease research lab are greater than previously predicted, according to a report issued this week.

The US government last month estimated there to be a 70 per cent chance of an accidental escape over the planned 50-year lifetime of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan, Kansas, and that the cost of a release would be $9 billion to $50 billion.

Now the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) says the risk of a release and the associated costs could be significantly higher than suggested in the Department of Homeland Security's previous report.

"Our overall assessment is that the DHS's risk assessment is incomplete, and is not entirely adequate or valid," says Ron Atlas of the University of Louisville in Kentucky, who chaired the NAS report panel.
 
 

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