ARS Biodefense research helps to understand dangerous pathogens, and to develop methods to prevent or limit exposure within agricultural and human populations.
Defending Against Pathogens
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) mission is extensively linked to the President's National Strategy for Countering Biological Threats (Strategy). The Biosecurity Engagement Program (BEP), is funded by the US Department of State's Bureau for International Security and Nonproliferation, office for Cooperative Threat Reduction. BEP is committed to developing cooperative international programs that promote the safe, secure, and responsible use of biological materials that are at risk of accidental release or intentional misuse. By helping other nations deal with serious pathogens within their borders, USDA scientists will better understand how to prevent and control outbreaks in the U.S.
Prevention, detection, reporting, and control strategies USDA scientists have developed play integral roles in ensuring global food security. BEP works with USG partner agencies to conduct trainings in biosafety and pathogen security; infectious disease surveillance and molecular diagnostics; engage bioscience laboratories in collaborative pathogen security and biosafety projects; and build laboratory capacity. The USDA Implementation Plan for Countering Biological Threats provides measures for USDA and its partners - including state agencies, the private sector, international organizations and foreign governments - to ensure the integrity and sustainability of our agricultural production systems, the Nation's food supply, and global food security.ARS cooperative efforts support the U.S. short and long-term threat reduction mission with projects and programs to reduce potential harmful use of dual-use agents- particularly by terrorists and proliferant states, and improves international bioscience laboratory, surveillance, diagnostic, and pathogen control capacity. Some diseases the USDA has worked to mitigate with international research partners include African Swine Fever, Newcastle disease (ND), and Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD). This in turn ensures sustainable, global resources for long-term existing and emerging proliferation threats.