U.S. Senator John Boozman expressed strong support for the National Center for Toxicological Research during his first visit to the facility located in northern Jefferson County Thursday morning.
Boozman (R-Rogers) who is in Arkansas until Friday while the U.S. Congress is on holiday recess, was briefed on the mission of NCTR and given a tour of the facility during his time there.
NCTR is the primary, agency-wide laboratory research center of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration within the Department of Health and Human Services.
“I was very supportive of NCTR while I was a congressman and now as a senator I am on the Appropriations Committee and the Agriculture Committee where the important work done by the staff of this facility is frequently discussed,” Boozman said. “I have been wanting to get a look at it for a while because as good as something looks on paper it adds another dimension of appreciation for something when it can be observed firsthand.”
Boozman pointed out the importance of NCTR both locally and on a national level.
“This is an an entity that is very important for the state of Arkansas and for the country as a whole,” Boozman said. “The work done here is a major reason we have the cheapest, safest food supply in the world. They are also doing research on various outbreaks [of foodborne illnesses] and because of this research these outbreaks can be tracked.”
Boozman said collaborations between the University of Arkansas System and NCTR are providing new research opportunities as well as training for budding young scientists in the state.
“The United States is leading the way in nanotechnology and the cutting edge research being done by NCTR in that field is helping that to occur,” Boozman said in reference to the Nanotechnology Core Facility of the Food and Drug Administration located on the NCTR campus.
“The staff of NCTR make decisions based on science and not emotion,” Boozman said. “They provide those of us in Washington, D.C., with good, hard science that we can use to garner support for legislative measures by showing our fellow legislators the data.”
Boozman said the Arkansas Congressional delegation is committed to ensuring the continuation of NCTR and to keeping its budget funded.
“It is true that we have a federal budget deficit that is now at $17 trillion and there are some programs that are being duplicated and need to be cut back,” Boozman said. “But what NCTR does nobody else can do. The whole country depends on this facility for the safety of its food supply. I and my colleagues in the Arkansas delegation are committed to taking all necessary steps to ensure that they are taken care of.”
Boozman said the good done by NCTR is widely recognized in Congress, thus making its defense relatively easy.
“With the world becoming a more dangerous place and antibiotic-resistant illnesses on the increase this facility is needed now more than ever,” Boozman said. “We often take for granted our cheap, safe food supply and medicine supply. But it is because of the work of the people here at NCTR that we are able to take it for granted.
“NCTR is something for everybody in the state of Arkansas to be proud of,” Boozman said.
NCTR conducts scientific research and develops innovative tools and approaches for the Food and Drug Administration to protect and promote public health and public safety, according to information provided by NCTR.
The NCTR staff includes more than 150 doctoral and post-doctoral scientists and scientists engaged in more than 200 ongoing research projects. The center has a total staff of just over 700 civil service and contract personnel.