State funds $40 million food lab at Cornell's Ag Tech Park in Geneva

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On Sept. 23 New York Gov. George Pataki announced $40 million in state funding for the construction of a new state food laboratory during a visit to the Cornell Agriculture and Food Technology Park (CAFTP) in Geneva. The food lab will replace an outdated facility at the Harriman State Office Campus in Albany.

"Bringing facilities like this to the Finger Lakes will mean good-paying, high-tech jobs for your sons, daughters and grandchildren," Pataki said. "Agriculture is not only a part of the past, but it must be a part of the future. The future of agriculture is something we can look forward to with optimism, and Cornell is helping lead the way in this endeavor with the Ag Tech Park and the great research being done at the [Geneva] experiment station."

The laboratory will be part of a cluster of high-tech facilities at the park dedicated to agriculture, food and biological-based enterprises. A new $25 million, 60,000-square-foot U.S. Department of Agriculture Center for Grape Genetics Research will commence construction in the park soon, and a $5.9 million, 20,000-square-foot, multitenant Flex Technology incubator building has already been constructed. The new state food laboratory, scheduled for completion in 2009, will complement these other projects, which have received a mix of state, federal and private funding.

The New York State Food Laboratory provides expert analytical testing for all food safety and security programs in New York. As a division of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, the lab has expertise in food chemistry, food microbiology and pesticide residue. In addition, the lab will support regulatory programs of the state Department of Agriculture and Markets in the areas of food safety, milk control and horticulture.

"This is a great day for our region," said New York Sen. Michael Nozzolio (R-54th Dist.). "It is a continuation of the renaissance in the Finger Lakes, and I'm pleased that the governor has helped us along the way."

"I am pleased to have the opportunity to thank Governor Pataki for the strong support he has provided to food and agricultural research that has greatly strengthened these New York industries and has had very positive impacts on the economic development of the state," said Thomas J. Burr, director of the experiment station.

Burr added that the decision to place the food laboratory in Geneva will further strengthen Cornell and the experiment station in the area of food science and will promote the ongoing synergies between the laboratory, CAFTP and Cornell in food safety, chemical analyses and other areas. By locating the food laboratory at CAFTP, the state also will be in a position to work closely with the adjacent New York State Agricultural Experiment Station and Cornell's Institute of Food Science, one of the pre-eminent food science research programs in the world. The food laboratory will also be well positioned to recruit and attract Cornell food science students for employment. Currently, Cornell's Department of Food Science does education and training of the laboratory's field and technical staff and conducts collaborative research aimed at making food safety monitoring programs and procedures more effective.

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Linda McCandless