The agency's major request, an increase of $30.1 million for food defense, is part of a collaborative effort by FDA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety & Inspection Service (FSIS), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the White House Homeland Security Council to defend America's food supply from terrorist attacks.
In addition to building upon FDA's counterterrorism program, the budget request includes increases for pre-market reviews of medical devices, enhanced surveillance and response to potential safety issues associated with marketed drugs, and additional resources to manage the agency's infrastructure. The latter category of projects includes restoration of the facilities maintenance account and continued consolidation of the agency's facilities in a single location in White Oak, Md.
"The Administration is under great pressure from Congress and the public to maintain fiscal discipline and reduce the federal deficit. However, the White House recognizes the critical nature of the FDA's work, and our agency's need for adequate resources," FDA Acting Commissioner Dr. Lester M. Crawford said in a statement. "Despite that vote of confidence, FDA clearly understands that the current budget situation requires innovation and creativity. FDA must leverage its resources through increased cooperation and collaboration with stakeholders. And this we are pledged to do."
The proposed increase for the food counter-terrorism program, considered a White House priority, includes funds for the following long-range projects by FDA and FSIS: Expansion of the joint FDA-FSIS Food Emergency Response Network (FERN - $20 million of the $30 million requested) of laboratories capable of analyzing thousands of food samples for biological, chemical and radiological threat agents, which Congress funded in the current fiscal year. The FY 2006 request will add some 19 FDA-funded state labs.
The FDA said it will target research in those areas posing the greatest perceived threat to the food supply, based in part on the most recent intelligence. The increase in funding in this category will support research related to prevention/mitigation technologies, tamper proof packaging, rapid test methods, and/or agent sensor technologies.
The agency is expected to continue coordinating and sharing of data with the Department of Homeland Security as part of the government-wide Bio-Surveillance Initiative. It will also maintain development of the agency's vital crisis and incident-management infrastructure required to manage emergencies involving FDA-regulated products.