Safeguarding American Agriculture in a Globalized World - Disease and Biological Threats to Food Supply and Farming, Biodefense Against Crop Pathogens, Zoonotic and Animal Diseases, Climate Change
This important hearing before the Senate Committee on Agriculture heard from major witnesses about the ongoing issue of agriculture security and the threat to farmers, ranchers, the food supply and American economy of natural and terrorist biological threats. More
This important hearing before the Senate Committee on Agriculture heard from major witnesses about the ongoing issue of agriculture security and the threat to farmers, ranchers, the food supply and American economy of natural and terrorist biological threats. Chairman Roberts noted: Biological threats, whether naturally occurring like the avian influenza outbreak of 2015 or intentionally introduced, could pose great harm to our food supply and the economy. The 2015 avian influenza outbreak was unprecedented, and while the USDA managed through the situation as well as can be expected, it illuminated just how vulnerable the agriculture sector is to such an event and it has made everyone involved begin to think about ways in which we can improve. Whether that be communication or coordination or preparedness or response, there is always room to gather feedback, reassess, and consider if our current approach is the best approach. Further, today's hearing is an opportunity to take stock of where we have come since the early 2000s when the issue of agriculture security was first visited and discuss where we need to go from here."
One of the expert witnesses, General Richard Myers, stated: Food insecurity is an ever increasing global problem as delineated in a 2015 assessment by our intelligence community, and as people say, hungry people are not happy people. America still feeds the world, so there is an urgent need to protect America's food crops, food animals, and food supply from naturally occurring and intentionally developed and delivered biological threats. Either could be devastating, either economically or to our health. As Senator Lieberman mentioned, one of those early discoveries going into Afghanistan in 2002 was that list of 16 pathogens that al Qaeda was planning to use as bioweapons. I think it is worth noting that only six of them were targeted against people. Another six were pathogens of livestock and poultry, and four were crop pathogens. So al Qaeda was not just planning to attack people with biological weapons; they were going after agriculture and food as well. So that idea is out there. I would say also when al Qaeda was driven—some of them were driven from Afghanistan, a few of them pooled up in northeast Iraq, and we saw them conducting experiments on animals, dogs and I think there were some sheep or goats as well. What we could tell from the intelligence at the time was that they were trying some of these bioweapons on these animals. So this goes on. Al Qaeda may be down, but they are not out, and that notion of hurting us economically is one that is pretty prevalent among those that want to cause us harm. Natural outbreaks, of course, can have the same impact. If you consider the UN Food and Agriculture Organization assessment that ''just 15 crop plants provide 90 percent of the world's food energy intake, with three—wheat, rice, and maize—making up two-thirds of this,'' 90 percent makes the protection of food crops rather significant.
Contents: Safeguarding American Agriculture in a Globalized World * Opening Statements * Witnesses * Lieberman, Hon. Joseph I., Co-Chair, Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense, Washington, DC * Myers, Gen. Richard B., President, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas * Hammerschmidt, Raymond, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Plant, Soil, and Microbial Sciences, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan * Meckes, R.D., D.V.M., State Veterinarian, North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Raleigh, North Carolina * Appendix - Statements for the Record * Documents
This compilation includes a reproduction of the 2019 Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community.
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