Proposed food safety research network will include Ohio State


WASHINGTON – Almost $2 million in funding has been redirected to enhance research on bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and $5 million has been awarded to 17 colleges and universities, including Ohio State, to establish a Food Safety Research and Response Network, according to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns.
Efforts to improve the understanding of BSE will strengthen the security of the food supply, he said.
“These projects will help improve food safety by enhancing our research partnerships with the academic community and establish another tool to aid our response to food-related disease outbreaks,” Johanns said.
Building. The BSE research funds, redirected by USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, will be used for new BSE projects and facilities and build upon President Bush’s fiscal year 2006 budget proposal, which would increase BSE research by $7.3 million or 155 percent over 2005 funding levels.
The newly funded projects include international collaborations with the Veterinary Laboratory Agency in Great Britain to study the biology of the BSE agent, the Italian BSE Reference Laboratory to evaluate present diagnostic tools for detecting atypical BSE cases and the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain to compare North American and European BSE strains.
Long-term research. About $750,000 will go toward a biocontainment facility now under construction at the Agricultural Research Service’s National Animal Disease Center in Ames, Iowa.
These facilities will eventually allow the long-term study of BSE infection in cattle and other large animals, which can take a decade or more.
Network. The Food Safety Research and Response Network, spearheaded by North Carolina State University, will include a team of more than 50 food safety experts from 18 colleges and universities who will investigate several of the most prevalent food-related illness pathogens.
Pathogens like E. coli, salmonella and campylobacter will be studied to determine where they are found in the environment, how they are sustained and how they infect herds.
The group also will serve as a response team that can be mobilized to conduct focused research to control major episodes of food-related illnesses.
Episodes could include investigation of health problems associated with agricultural bioterrorism and the deliberate contamination of agricultural commodities.
USDA’s Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service provided funding for the award.
Involvement. The 17 other institutions in the project are: Cornell University, Iowa State University, McMasters University, Mississippi State University, North Dakota State University, The Ohio State University, Tuskegee University, University of Arizona, University of California at Davis, University of California at Berkeley, University of Florida, University of Illinois, University of Kentucky, University of Minnesota, University of Montreal, Washington State University, and West Texas A&M University.


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