Speaker Kevin McCarthy is calling for an investigation into a shut-down Reedley bio lab connected to China.
“This is very disturbing,” McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, said Thursday at an appearance in Clovis.”What’s real concerning is, what was going on in that lab? What was not being reported in that lab? The funding of that lab. I know the FBI is involved now as well.”
McCarthy said he wants the Congressional Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party to look into the matter.
“My concern is to get to the bottom of what happened here, but also look at where is this happening (in) other parts of this country as well. And, I’m going to take this back to the Select Committee on China and dealing with it as well and working with the FBI,” McCarthy said.
The committee, chaired by Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wisconsin, was formed after McCarthy took the Speaker’s gavel in January.
“This is an extremely troubling story. It’s our understanding that there are multiple ongoing investigations into this facility and we‘ll be asking them to provide Congress with more information as to how this came to be,”Gallagher told GV Wire after this story first published.
“Americans are rightly sensitive to any recklessness or mishandling of hazardous materials at biolabs and we need to get to the bottom of how this happened to ensure it isn’t happening anywhere else,” Gallagher said.
More Labs ‘Than Just This’
Local, state, and federal authorities shut down the facility in Reedley in March after a code enforcement officer found a hose sticking from a wall in an industrial building in December.
Left behind were freezers full of biological samples, and 1,000 lab mice. Court records show Prestige Biotech owned the facility. The company’s CEO, Xiuquin Yao, is based in China, emails in court documents revealed.
The equipment and experimental material originated with Universal Meditech Inc., a Fresno-based company that experienced hard financial times, court records show. Prestige took over UMI’s assets.
UMI was involved with COVID test kits that were recalled by the Food and Drug Administration in 2022 and this year. UMI failed to provide the FDA with data showing the tests worked correctly, according to an FDA news release.
McCarthy is concerned that there are more clandestine labs operating in America.
“There’s more than just this. It is more than just labs from what China has been doing in America, on our college campuses, on the spying, on the stealing of our technology,” McCarthy said.
State Responsible for Labs
The California Department of Public Health is responsible for licensing labs in the state. Labs also need a federal certificate.
A CDPH spokesperson said labs need to submit several forms about the business, testing, and site information, and several other forms.
Labs are inspected every two years by the Laboratory Field Services branch.
“Laboratory Field Services discovers illegal labs when it is informed of their existence by a complaint or learns of their existence by other means,” CDPH said.