Agricultural Bioterrorism: A Federal Strategy to Meet the Threat - USDA, Agroterrorism, Bioterror History, Superweeds, Superbugs, Emerging Threat to Food Security, Biowarfare
The United States ignores the potential for agricultural bioterrorism at its peril. The relative ease of a catastrophic bio-weapons attack against the American food and agriculture infrastructure, and the devastating economic and social consequences of such an act, demand that the Nation pursue an aggressive, focused, coordinated, and stand-alone national strategy. More
The United States ignores the potential for agricultural bioterrorism at its peril. The relative ease of a catastrophic bio-weapons attack against the American food and agriculture infrastructure, and the devastating economic and social consequences of such an act, demand that the Nation pursue an aggressive, focused, coordinated, and stand-alone national strategy to combat agricultural bioterrorism. The strategy should build on counterterrorism initiatives already underway; leverage existing Federal, state, and local programs and capabilities; and involve key customers, stakeholders, and partners. The U.S. Department of Agriculture should lead the development of this strategy.
We know that at least nine countries support offensive terrorism programs, and that Al Qaeda—Osama bin Laden's international terrorist organization—has been committed to developing and deploying weapons of mass destruction against U.S. targets. And the possibility that the recent anthrax attacks were perpetrated by a domestic terrorist with access to a Federal Government, academic, or private laboratory that possessed anthrax for legitimate scientific reasons has brought fear to the doorsteps of virtually every home, business, and public institution in the country.
We are now also facing up to a less publicized, but potentially devastating threat—terrorism directed against the Nation's food and agricultural infrastructure. As this paper elucidates, American farms, food, and agriculture systems are exceedingly vulnerable to deliberate disruption by hostile interests intent on undermining confidence in food supplies or wreaking havoc on the agricultural sector of the American economy, which accounts for one-sixth of our gross domestic product.
Because of its breadth, diversity, and unparalleled success, U.S. agriculture is an inviting target for terrorists. Not only are food supplies vital for feeding our own population and others around the world, and important for the Nation's economic health, but American agriculture is a vivid example of the capabilities of modern scientific farming. Intelligence reports indicate that a number of countries have active research programs that could produce biological agents to threaten crops and livestock.
Naturally occurring outbreaks of diseases signal the devastation that could result from a carefully choreographed intentional release. Thus the recent Foot and mouth disease epidemics in Taiwan and Great Britain, or hog cholera in the Netherlands, or the infection of Florida citrus trees with citrus canker, aptly demonstrate the vulnerability of living targets to biological pathogens and the economic chaos that can result from an outbreak—intentional or otherwise.
Chapter One * Bioterrorism, Biowarfare, and National Security * Chapter Two * An Emerging Threat to Food Security * Chapter Three * Countering the Threat * Chapter Four * Recommendations and Conclusion * Appendix A * Framework for National Coordination for Security, Critical Infrastructure, and Counterterrorism * Appendix B * High-Priority Research Needs * Appendix C * Federal Agencies with Counterterrorism Responsibilities * Appendix D * Key Federal Programs and Capabilities to Combat Bioterrorism * Appendix E * Selected Agricultural and Environmental Organizations * Appendix F * Acronyms * Endnotes * References