Fresno City Councilman Garry Bredefeld is calling for transparency from Fresno County regarding the secret lab discovered in Reedley that contained bioengineered mice designed to carry COVID-19.
Bredefeld, who is running for the Fresno County Board of Supervisors, also called for increased state and federal oversight into biological labs.
The backstory: In March, Reedley code enforcement discovered a secret biological labs in a warehouse after investigating the property because of an illegally attached garden hose.
- The city called in the Fresno County Department of Public Health, which uncovered 36 freezers in the building, over 800 biological materials and chemicals, COVID-19 tests, pregnancy tests and nearly 1,000 bioengineered mice designed to carry COVID-19.
- The lab was operated by Prestige Biotech, a Las Vegas-registered company that is the successor to former Fresno-based medical equipment manufacturer Universal Meditech, Inc.
- Prestige did not have a license to operate a lab in Reedley, nor did the company have a license to dispose of biological waste.
- Viral agents such as chlamydia, E. Coli, streptococcus pneumonia, hepatitis B and C, herpes 1 and 5, rubella and malaria were also found in the lab.
The big picture: While the county was first made aware of the secret lab in March, the lab only came into public view last week after a report from Mid Valley Times, a small local newspaper that serves Reedley, Dinuba and Sanger.
- Bredefeld called on the Fresno County Board of Supervisors to pass a new law that would require all labs to report to the Fresno County Department of Public Health about the biologics and testing done on site, regardless of if the lab is privately financed.
- Bredefeld also posed a series of questions about the lab, asking if the lab has any ties to the Chinese government or Chinese nationals, why the public was not informed about the lab in March and if there are any adverse impacts to the county’s water from Prestige illegally dumping biological waste.
What they’re saying: “The public has a right to know that after March 3, five months ago, an illegal lab experimenting with mice, COVID-19, infectious agents, similarly as was done at the Wuhan lab three years ago is going on in our backyard,” Bredefeld said. “The public had a right to know. The public has a right to know exactly what they know and when they knew it and what they intend to do about what’s going on.”
- Bredefeld furthered his focus on the Board of Supervisors, saying the five county representatives should have informed the public immediately.
- “This is disgraceful and represents a willful decision to hide from and shirk their duties as elected representatives of, guess what, the public. They’re responsible to the public. These same board of supervisors were derelict in their responsibilities to the public during the pandemic. They were silent and complicit with all of Governor Newsom’s destructive unscientific lockdowns, mandates and forcing kids out of school for two years,” Bredefeld said. “Now we have the same cowardice from the board of supervisors, and they’re silent again when facing another crisis in the county, again related to COVID. The public has a right to know what did the board of supervisors know about the lab, when did they know it, and why didn’t they inform the public.”