In 1983, the National Research Council released the report Long-Term Planning for Research and Diagnosis to Protect U.S. Agriculture from Foreign Animal Diseases and Ectoparasites (NRC, 1983). The study was requested in 1982 by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to “assess the current state of the USDA effort on FAD&E [foreign animal diseases and ectoparasites] diagnosis and research; assess, for three 10-year increments, current and projected technology of biological containment; and assist USDA in planning, in three 10-year increments, for research on and diagnosis of all FAD&E of livestock and poultry” (NRC, 1983).
The deliberations and recommendations in the 1983 report have a strong resonance with the questions posed to the current National Research Council committee 30 years later. Main themes of the 1983 report were that the facilities at PIADC for conducting FAD and ectoparasite research and diagnostics were obsolete and that the United States needed to contemplate several options to maintain strong protection of our animal industries and economy in the face of a threat of FADs and ectoparasites. In addition to recommendations that addressed the need for long-term research planning and coordination, the 1983 NRC report said that
• “USDA should increase coordination [of FAD&E activities] with other federal agencies and foreign institutions” (NRC, 1983).
• “USDA should establish a system of laboratories and university-based collaborative research centers for investigation, research, and diagnosis of domestic and foreign animal diseases and ectoparasites” (NRC, 1983).
• “As soon as possible, USDA should proceed with construction of a new, highly secure mainland laboratory to succeed PIADC as USDA’s principal center for research on exotic airborne and fomites-transmitted non-avian animal diseases” (NRC, 1983).
The report further suggested the need for BSL-4 capabilities and proximity to a major airport and a major university campus to ensure ready access and a supportive scientific environment. It also suggested that PIADC be maintained for large-animal challenge and vaccine studies in view of the legal restrictions on working with foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDv) on the mainland.
Eleven years later, in 1994, USDA appointed a Task Force on Biocontainment Facilities for Foreign Animal Disease Research and Diagnostic Activities (USDA, 1994) to consider two issues: the progress made in the preceding decade in new technology development and use for handling FAD agents since the publication of the 1983 National Research Council report, and the current status of and physical requirements for large-animal biocontainment facilities for conducting FAD research and diagnostic activities in the near term and the long-range future.