Minister opens new avian research facility in UK
A national centre for poultry health and welfare in the UK has been officially opened by the Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts.
The National Avian Research Facility (NARF) at the University of Edinburgh's Easter Bush campus will provide a resource for both UK and international researchers studying chicken health and disease.
This £14M facility, supported by the Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council (BBSRC), the University of Edinburgh, Roslin Foundation and the Wellcome Trust, is classed as a national capability, due to its strategic importance for UK research.
Its research – dedicated to improving avian health – will have a significant impact on the UK's economy, which has a multi-million pound poultry industry.
"Agricultural science and technology is one of the world's fastest growing markets and we can't allow the UK to be left behind in the global race,”said Universities and Science Minister David Willetts. “In an industry worth £4Bn to the UK economy employing around 35,000 people, the National Avian Research Facility will enhance the UK's reputation as a world leader in this field."
The cutting-edge building is the first of two units that will form the facility. This new building is funded by a £5M grant from BBSRC and investment from the Roslin Foundation and University of Edinburgh.
Researchers at the NARF will study a range of diseases that place a significant economic burden on the food industry, such as Campylobacter and Salmonella. In addition to conventional avian accommodation, the new facilities will contain research laboratories for the production of genetically modified (GM) chickens. Scientists at The Roslin Institute have already used GM technology to produce chickens that are unable to spread bird flu.
Future development at the NARF will also include specially designed sterile areas, which, together with the conventional avian accommodation and research laboratories, will enable researchers to work to improve human health by reducing food borne diseases.
"The poultry industry is already vital to the UK economy and will become even more important in order to meet the demands of feeding the world,” said Douglas Kell, BBSRC Chief Executive. “In order to increase production sustainably, it is vital that we invest in research that will secure the health and welfare of poultry in the UK and across the world. This National Capability will provide infrastructure, services and world-leading expertise for the study of avian biology, genetics, infection and disease."
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