PDF _ RL31217 - Agroterrorism: Options in Congress
17-Jul-2002; Alejandro E. Segarra; 29 p.

Abstract: Although U.S. intelligence agencies have not identified any terrorist acts targeting agricultural production (i.e., agroterrorism) in the United States to date, the events of September 11, 2001 have awakened the nation to their possibility. Some experts estimate that a single agroterrorist attack using a highly contagious livestock disease could cost between $10 billion and $30 billion to the U.S. economy. Experts also recognize weaknesses in the ability of most nations to prevent and contain a biological attack on their agricultural resources. Limited inspection capabilities, lack of rapid diagnostic tools, inadequate coordination between inspection agencies, and little biosafety training of farmers, agronomists, and veterinarians are among the recognized weaknesses.

The goal of agroterrorism is to cripple the biological infrastructure of a nation?s agriculture, i.e., its livestock and its crops. Many links in the agricultural production chain are potentially susceptible to attack with a biological weapon. Traditionally the first defense against the introduction of livestock or plant diseases has been to try to keep them out of the country by stopping them at our borders. However, if an agroterrorist attack were to occur, keeping the disease from inflicting significant economic damage will depend on quick actions from alert and informed farmers and disease specialists.

Congress and the Administration are engaged in discussions to protect agricultural production from a terrorist attack, to promote greater awareness and rapid response. In the aftermath of September 11, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has gained a seat at the new Office of Homeland Security and has increased the number of inspectors at ports-of-entry. [read report]

Topics: Agriculture, International

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