mouth disease research activities demonstrated the need to have biosecure laboratories in the United States where this type of research could be conducted.
A few years before the Mexican outbreak, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) had established a robust research program on foot-and-mouth disease and other foreign animal diseases through cooperative agreements with foreign laboratories, particularly those at the Foot-and-Mouth Disease Research Institute in Pirbright, England; the State Veterinary Research Institute in Amsterdam, Holland; the Danish Foot-and-Mouth Disease Research Institute in Lindholm, Denmark; and the Swiss Federal Vaccine Institute in Basel. Each of those laboratories hosted one or two USDA scientists. However, Congress and the animal industries felt that the research based in foreign laboratories was inadequate for US needs and prompted discussions about the authorization of the establishment of a laboratory in the United States “to conduct research on footand-mouth disease and other diseases of animals” (PL 80-496 (Sec. 2038)), which culminated in the approval of PL 80-496 on April 24, 1948. The law provided an annual operating budget of $3 million “to cover employment of 50 trained scientists, 200 people to handle the animals, and 200 employees of various classes; animals to conduct the experiments (including 1,200 cattle); and supplies, materials and travel” (S. Rep. No. 211, 80th Cong., 2d Sess. (1948)). Congress also required laboratory safety conditions more stringent than those in the European foot-and-mouth disease laboratories, following standards developed by the National Institutes of Health laboratories in Bethesda, Maryland, ensuring that all animal experimentation would take place in completely enclosed animal rooms isolated from each other.
To implement PL 80-496, Congress approved the use of up to $30 million for the entire cost of establishment of a foot-and-mouth disease laboratory by USDA’s Bureau of Animal Industries to be
a coastal island separated from the mainland by deep, navigable water and not connected with the mainland by a tunnel… [with a] continuous supply of hundreds of thousands of gallons of fresh water daily… [and with] transportation facilities from the mainland for personnel, animals, and materials, uninterrupted by weather conditions (S. Rep. No. 211, 80th Cong., 2d Sess. (1948)).
It should be noted that in 1990 (PL 101-624), Congress amended the original restrictions for working with live foot-and-mouth disease virus on the US mainland by declaring that such work was prohibited
unless the Secretary determines that it is necessary and in the public interest for the conduct of research and study in the United States (except at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York) and issues a permit under such rules as the Secretary shall promulgate to protect animal health...(21USC§113a).