Thursday, 11 February 2021

Questions (347)

Bernard Durkan


347. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the degree to which sufficient laboratory facilities exist or, if not available, can be provided here, with particular reference to ongoing challenges; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7758/21]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The facilities at the central laboratory complex in Backweston and at regional laboratories are capable of meeting the vast majority of my Department’s analytical and diagnostic requirements in the animal health, plant health and food safety areas, hosting of over 30 National Reference Laboratories within these disciplines. The laboratory facilities at Backweston are state-of-the-art and include bio-containment laboratories which allow for the safe and secure handling of exotic animal and plant pathogens.

While my Department Laboratories have the capability to carry out most of the tests in these sectors, for cost efficient reasons, some low volume, highly specialised reference test methods that are periodically required are still outsourced to specialist centres in addition to the availability of numerous private commercial laboratories that provide diagnostic services.

The existing facilities will be enhanced when the new Category 4 Containment Laboratory comes into operation later this year and the planned restructuring of DAFM laboratories will also see the building of four new regional laboratories to replace the existing ones over the next few years.