The first stage of a new £14m National Avian Research Facility (NARF) at the University of Edinburgh has been completed, with one of two planned buildings opened by science minister David Willetts.
Research at the NARF will focus on chicken health and diseases that can place a significant economic burden on the food industry, such as campylobacter and salmonella.
In addition to conventional avian accommodation, the new facilities will contain research laboratories for the production of genetically modified chickens for research purposes.
Future development at the NARF will also include specially designed sterile areas, which will enable researchers to work to improve human health by reducing food-borne diseases.
"Agricultural science and technology is one of the world's fastest growing markets and we can't allow the UK to be left behind in the global race," said Mr Willetts. "In an industry worth £4bn and employing around 35,000 people, the National Avian Research Facility will enhance the UK's reputation as a world leader in this field."
The first cutting-edge facility has been funded by a £5m grant from the Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council and investment from the Roslin Foundation and University of Edinburgh.
The whole NARF project is also supported by the Welcome Trust and the Pirbright Institute in Surrey.
"Currently chicken is second only to pig in world production of meat as a source of food and to secure this vital resource, these facilities will deliver world-leading research to improve the health and welfare of these birds," said Prof Pete Kaiser, of the Roslin Institute, who will head the NARF.
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