Archive for Thursday, February 19, 2009

NBAF dangers being ignored

February 19, 2009


When I read in the Lawrence Journal-World that locating the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan was “great news” and “the entire state and its people are winners,” I thought of Tom Sawyer’s fence. As “winners” of the NBAF, here are some reminders of how lucky we are:

• New York does not want this facility at Plum Island; last August, their state attorney general referred to it as posing “monstrous risks.”

• We live far enough away from Plum Island not to have known or lived with the risks involved with such a facility.

• Jobs have been promised, and those people who work with top secret disease agents would go between the lab and our families, homes and communities.

• Sen. Pat Roberts’ leadership is undeniable; he sat as chair on the Senate Intelligence Committee when President Bush claims his decision to invade Iraq sprang from faulty intelligence. Roberts refused to vote to ban cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment.

• Kansans get to “pay a significant portion of the cost of NBAF.”

• Nearby Fort Riley provides experienced resources; the influenza pandemic of 1918 reportedly first appeared there. It spread worldwide and took more lives than all the wars of the 20th century combined.

Here are suggestions to maintain that winning feeling:

• Do not flip the coin of bio-agro defense to see its flip-side: biological and agricultural offensive warfare, where labs could design diseases that evade immune systems or cause psychosis/mental debilitation, or cause national or global pandemics.

• Do not read Jonathan Moreno’s “Mind Wars” containing annoying information as below:

“… (V)iral and bacterial pathogens can be engineered … with properties not naturally found in (them) to become advanced neuroweapons targeting the brain and nervous system. Based on work already done in the offensive biological weapons program of the former Soviet Union, scientists who are expert in biological weapons defense have worried aloud to me about the threat of technological surprise posed by advanced viral neuroweapons.” Human Tularemia (rabbit fever), for example, “can easily be treated with antibiotics, but if the bacterium has been engineered … the damage would already have been done before the infection became a clinical problem.”

• Discount the many thousands of servicemen and civilians used as guinea pigs in experiments and programs through Edgewood Arsenal/Fort Detrick’s biological laboratories/research.

• There are relatively few Kansans/Nebraskans, so when a cataclysmic disaster occurs in Manhattan, loss of human life in nearby areas would only reach hundreds of thousands. A similar event at Plum Island could reach millions.

• Think of our nation’s center as a tourist destination, not as a point from which a major breach/failure could radiate out across the entire nation.

• Proudly claim the one place on earth where there are no unknowns when it comes to security and disease organism containment. “To err is human” except in the NBAF, a top-secret facility where no law requires that local officials or the public be informed about the content or purpose of what is studied there. NBAF will prove itself secure: If slower, less obvious lapses in disease containment occur, or if people are used as guinea pigs again, we in the public need never know.

• Officials warn us that another deadly pandemic is just a matter of time — so when it happens, we Kansans will be so distracted by our greatness as NBAF winners that we will scarcely notice the effect a lack of a national health policy/insurance has on our national security.

Tom Sawyer used presentation and word choice to transform punishment into privilege and convince friends that painting that fence for him was winning. While we “hand over the apple,” let’s pause to consider how much we will need to pay any scientists, let alone good scientists, to work at Manhattan’s NBAF, carry top-secret baggage, and work on organisms that pose “monstrous risks.”

Kansans are hard-working, honest folks with rural backbone. They have trusted, loved and sacrificed for their country. Kansans are too far away from Plum Island to know, too sparsely populated to matter and too patriotic to question. A better comparison than “Tom Sawyer” would be from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.” Kansans, “being remiss, most generous, and free of all contriving, will not peruse the foils.”

— Carol Bahr Grieb is a Lawrence resident.


monkeyhawk 9 years, 4 months ago

Why do you think Sebilius is getting heck out of here? (She's not a real Kansan anyway, and BO figures she's the only one worth saving in this state.)

Most of the country views Kansas as flyover territory and completely irrelevant. Why do you suppose those freedom fighters from Gitmo will one day soon be accommodated in Leavenworth?

Flap Doodle 9 years, 4 months ago

Multiple posts from loggy without a single Nazi reference? Are you feeling ill, child?

kerplunkr 9 years, 4 months ago

I don't understand articles like these. Obviously they are written by people who have concerns, but they seem to have NO idea what they are talking about when it comes to science and research. Some of the posters seem to have displayed their ignorance as well. This IS a good thing for the state of Kansas. Most people are caught up on the label "bio-weapons" laboratory. I think for the most part this label is incorrect. However, if anybody has secret clearance maybe they can enlighten all of us further?? =)

My main point being, more than just defense research will take place here. It is going to be a BSL-4 lab that will have many rules and regulations regarding the handling of infectious diseases. These people may even help find a cure for HIV or Ebola. On the other hand, maybe they could also find a way to safely treat mad cow disease (affectionately called Creutzfeld-Jacobs Disease in humans) by effectively designing a way to kill prions that currently survive even the mightiest of autoclaves. If any of you have no idea what I've just rattled off in the last sentence or two, then get over yourselves about this lab being BAD for Kansas!

hipper_than_hip 9 years, 4 months ago

OMG it's just like "The Stand"! At least we won't have far to go to find that old lady in the cornfield.

You should be more worried about the possibility to Gitmo prisoners being transfered to Ft. Leavenworth than the possibility of a leak from the agro defence facility.

kerplunkr 9 years, 4 months ago


Wow, a 1978 release of the virus?! When were the other outbreaks? The 1950s and 60s? I looked at your posted link above. From the web address I thought it may be from a reputable veterinary site, but then realized it was a site called "The Utah Veteran." From the site: "Proud to Serve Utah Veterans with useful, thought provoking info since 2003." Come on, I would hardly deem a website such as that as credible! Like I said earlier, I understand that Kansans may feel uneasy about the prospect of a BSL-4 lab in their backyard. I cannot predict the future but an outbreak of some sort COULD happen for one reason or another. I'm sure the probability of that happening would be VERY low. Based on your logic, how about we do away with hospitals and other treatment clinics? After all, we probably run a greater risk of contracting a nosocomial (hospital acquired) infection such as staphylococcus. Here are some "thought provoking" words: what happens when humans keep abusing antibiotics because they have a runny nose? What happens when the strongest antibiotic (such as vancomycin) fails to save us all? We'd better have a solution from scientists and doctors who work at facilities such as NBAF.

kerplunkr 9 years, 4 months ago


You seem like a pretty competent person. Obviously you are also very opinionated. I don't doubt that bio-weapons exist. I'm also not stating that the NBAF will be immune from overseeing weapons development. The question is, is this facility good for Kansas? Will the good coming from this facility outweigh the bad? I guess that is yet to be determined.

People should realize that the NBAF will be more than just a "bio-weapons" facility. I have already noted that a label including the word "weapons" may be incorrect. However, if you can provide clear-cut information from a reputable source citing weapons development, I will be happy to read it. Give us some information from a .gov or .edu source.

kerplunkr 9 years, 4 months ago


I understand that there is sensitive information out there regarding our biological and defense facilities. However, your fear-mongering is unwarranted because you obviously don't know everything! I'm not as naive as you perceive me to be, but I do know a thing or two about science.

The kids at KU play with BSL-2 bacteria every week. They mutate, kill, and grow the stuff constantly. Regarding your comment on anthrax, people in universities across the world learn to understand the basics of genetic mutation and manipulation. Would it really be necessary for someone specifically working at a bio-defense lab to release a deadly strain of bacillus anthracis? Give me a break! You could culture stuff out of your own mouth, grow it, mutate it, and spread it around to your best buddies while cooking them dinner some night!

webmocker 9 years, 4 months ago

For a better idea of the past (and potential) problems with this, read: Lab 257: The Disturbing Story of the Government's Secret Plum Island Germ Laboratory, by Michael Carroll.

It may not be the best book, and it may be biased, but facts are facts, and there are enough scary ones in there to give one pause about having the place anywhere near your home. On the other hand, if something really well-engineered gets out, it will probably move across the planet efficiently enough that it won't matter where it started.

staff04 9 years, 4 months ago

There's BS-4 labs at the CDC in Atlanta that are not even being used because of a lack of funding--how in the Hell is building more justified?

I don't get it.

Flap Doodle 9 years, 4 months ago

loggy, do you break the seal on your containment suit once in a while to dump out the biosolids?

mikemc 9 years, 4 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

butseriouslyfolks 9 years, 4 months ago

The NBAF is a divisive issue it has been from the very beginning. But, I have to ask of the people who are cheerleading for the project, How much do you really know about the NBAF, Foot and Mouth Disease and Crimson Sky"? Have you read the DEIS or the Final EIS or the Feasibility Study? Why does the National Grange oppose the project? Did you know that Sen. Roberts was the acting "President" during the Crimson Sky simulation and during a senate hearing Roberts said: "We had to terminate almost every herd in America. I mean that was the end result. It was an incredible experience when you really finally got down to the final answer to stop what was going on. We had to call out the National Guard and call out the military. Quite frankly, we ran out of ammunition". Links here: and Also did you know that according to the NBAF Feasbility Study (which was obtained through a FOIA request) Link here:, they will also study Avian Flu and Newcastle Disease? But there is no mention of these diseases in the NBAF Environmental impacts studies. In fact, 2 rooms are designated for Avian Flu, Why no mention of these select agents? Where's the transparency in that Both sides of any issue must be explored and in Kansas so far only the positive has been discussed. One last question if something does happen and it will one day, who is going to shoulder the liability? the farmer, the residents or DHS and Kansas Gov't? I think you know the answer to that question already.

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