Dec 042008
 
Authors: Elyse Jarvis

Following an announcement made by a Congress-established panel this week – one which predicted a major terrorist attack by the year 2013 – CSU will collaborate with Japan’s Gifu University to propose the formation of a food emergency network, a university professor said Thursday.

The panel reported that the attack could take place anywhere in the world and will likely involve a biological weapon of mass destruction rather than a nuclear one.

“The product and food chain is really world-wide now,” said Bill Hanneman, Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences professor. “(Biological attacks) can come in many different forms, and one of the ways that they can come is through the food chain obviously.”

Citing the trip that took himself, Interim CSU President Tony Frank and a team of CSU deans and professors to China and Japan last month, Hanneman said strengthened cross-culture bonds could allow the universities access to funding for the potential global food protection network.

“We have formed these partnerships, and now we can ask funding agencies and individual organizations to put credibility and put resources into those (partnerships),” he said.

“So, if there are agricultural accidents or if there are issues with products (of suspect) coming into the United States . then we can engage in those.”

Hanneman said the food network proposal, for which the CSU team said they would soon seek national funding, is just one of the most important offshoots of CSU’s collaborations overseas.

The projects stemming from the trip – which include a soon-to-be-established Center for Environmental Medicine, the addition of university offices to facilitate foreign exchange and an agreement to create a joint Ph.D. program with China’s Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research – give students hands-on skills to complement their already-established intellectual capabilities, Hanneman said.

Thomas Hadley, director of finance and strategic services for the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, said mutually beneficial partnerships overseas will allow the university further funding, to come from enhanced opportunities for research grants, international contracts for services and additional openings in the professional masters program.

“With an increasingly tight budget, (CSU) is looking at unique opportunities to diversify the funding base to help offset educational costs and to provide offsets to increasing demand for students in very specific areas,” Hadley said.

Those areas, he said, include food safety and water research.

“As the ‘Go Green’ university plan has unfolded and this whole thought process has taken hold, we’re really saying, ‘Well, this is what we do, and it’s our time,'” Hanneman said, referring to CSU’s already-established research in water management and infectious disease testing.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to have these partners globally and to really expand what we do beyond our borders,” he said.

Frank said last week that from this point on, the university will formalize the steps already taken with China and Japan to ensure that exchange programs will allow student credits to transfer easily.

Federal funds were used to pay for the trip, which cost about $4,500 for each of the CSU team’s six travelers in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, said Dell Rae Mollenberg, university spokesperson. She said cost estimates for the seven other employees who traveled, including Frank, were not available but that no state or tuition money was used.

News Managing Editor Elyse Jarvis can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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