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Homeland Security

Thursday, May 15, 2003

Statement of L. Garry Adams, DVM, PhD, DACVP Associate Dean for Research, Biodefense & Infectious Diseases College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M University.

Chairman Cox and Members of the Committee, thank you for inviting me as a representative of the veterinary profession and as a member of the public health community to present an experienced and informed perspective for enthusiastic support for the concept, principles and implementation of the "Project BioShield" initiative. I am Dr. Garry Adams, associate dean for research and graduate studies, professor of veterinary pathology and a member of the faculty of the College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX. I am and have been actively engaged in biodefense and infectious disease research for over three decades, funded by the United States Department of Agriculture, National Institutes of Health, United States Agency for International Development and the Rockefeller Foundation. I am testifying based upon:

  • My personal experience as a research scientist developing diagnostic tests, therapeutics and vaccines to detect and prevent important high priority (NIH Category A, B and C pathogens) infectious disease pathogens transmitted from animals to man and vice versa (so called zoonotic diseases) either insect-borne or not while working for a total of 7 years on four continents and several other countries (México, Colombia, Argentina, Ecuador, Perú, Brazil, Kenya, Republic of South Africa, Israel, Egypt, Germany, Canada).
  • On my personal inspection of former Soviet bio-weapons experimental production and aersol laboratories, and my current collaboration with former Soviet bio-weapons scientists that are now being transformed into civilian scientists and facilities for vaccine development and production for domestic and international markets, thanks to the US Government.
  • On my recent experience working as a veterinary inspector in Yorkshire, England with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry under the auspices of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons during the deadly, economically and psychologically devastating Foot-and-Mouth Disease outbreaks in the United Kingdom where pre-emptive diagnostic surveillance and tactical use of effective vaccines may have saved the lives of millions of animals, billions of English pounds, and loss of some of the world's best breeding livestock.
  • On my personal knowledge of the ease of obtaining and relative ease of weaponizing NIH Category A, B and C pathogens as well as public information that several of these pathogens have already been weaponized by nation states, rogue groups and defiant individuals with the malicious intent to use them as weapons of mass destruction, thus representing profound real threats to the health of US human and livestock populations, food safety, food security, national economy, and psychological well-being of our nation. Knowledgeable sources have stated that frequent serial or multiple simultaneous bioterrorist events with multiple pathogens in both human and animal populations could be so deadly and so economically devastating that our nation might never recover to the state of health or economy that we currently enjoy. While our system of transportation facilitates the rapid development of markets and accumulation of wealth, it also greatly enhances the spread of diseases in human and animal populations.
  • On the fact that approximately 70% of the NIH Category A, B and C pathogens are diseases transmitted from animals to man to contaminate our food supplies by entering our domestic livestock populations and food chains and even worse by spreading into our massive wildlife populations where eradication of certain of these diseases may be impossible.
  • On the basis that should these pathogens be genetically manipulated by bioterrorists for enhanced for infection and mortality, the magnitude of the threat and impact on US human and animal populations and could amplified exponentially.

    Thus, as stated above from my personal experience and knowledge of these pathogens and their associated risks and threats to our nation, I am fully convinced of their real potential for use as Bioterroist Threat weapons of mass destruction for 1) inflicting loss of life of man and animals, 2) eroding the national economy, 3) creating a massive psychological epidemic among US citizens, and 4) overwhelming regulatory and control capacities at local, state and national levels as well as 5) undermining the confidence of American citizens in government organizations whose responsibility to prevent, control, contain and eradicate these diseases.

    The old axiom of an "ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" does not apply in the case of intentional, well planned Bioterrorism, because the short and long term effects on the US society could well be hundreds or even thousands of times greater unless prevented, thus concerted, pre-emptive and fully functional programs, e.g. Project Bioshield, are essential especially for prevention as well as for mitigation and recovery from small and large bioterrorist attacks. US scientists are especially well poised to address virtually all facets of malicious bioterrorism to produce 1) high quality, mass scale diagnostics, 2) large quantities of protective vaccines that avoid confusing diagnostic tests, and 3) new rationales of chemotherapies for treatment of these pathogens. Investment in US health-related research has paid great dividends to the US citizens in the form of improved health and longevity, safer food and water supplies, and prevention of many diseases causing high morbidity and mortality in other nations. Development of safe, effective countermeasures is obligatory for the prevention and recovery from bioterrorist attacks, but this will require large infusions of major resources, such as requested by Project BioShield, coupled with effective, transparent collaborations between and within academia, the biomedical industries and federal agencies, under rigorous scientific review and scrutiny to develop and produce the diagnostics, vaccines and treatments required to protect our citizenry and food resources. Importantly in the absence of bioterrorist attacks, the investment in Project Bioshield will have the greatest benefit that will be realized every day in the physician's and veterinarian's offices as well as in our super markets with improved health, safer foods, and confidence in the security, public health and well-being of our nation.

    In summary, I sincerely thank the Chairman and all members of the Select Committee on Homeland Security for this opportunity to very enthusiastically encourage the appropriations essential for Project BioShield to protect the future of our nation's citizenry, livestock, public health, and economic viability as well applying the benefits of the Project BioShield in global populations. I strongly support the concept, principles and implementation of the "Project BioShield" initiative and urge that the necessary resources be made available soon to protect against not only the potentiality of bioterrorist attacks but also against new emerging diseases occurring globally, such as SARS, and mad cow disease (bovine spongioform encephalopathy). My profession has decades of experience with many of these diseases, and we look forward to becoming a full scientific partner in the development of improved diagnostics, vaccines and treatments as countermeasures for these devastating pathogens.

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