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Agro terrorism; Efforts to prevent potential effects of agro terrorism-

AGROTERRORISM 16

Agroterrorism Efforts to prevent potential effects of agro terrorism- Asub-set of biological terrorism

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March15, 2014

Inthe wake of terrorism activities in the world, nothing has instilledfear than the eminent attack through agro terrorism. After, theSeptember 11 terrorist attack in the United States the specter offood contamination was aroused. Though little was known about ‘Agroterrorism’ before the attack, history indicates that Agro terrorismexisted in the era of World War 1 where bio agricultural pathogensgrown in laboratories were used by the Germans to kill British warhorses. Similar agro terrorist pathogens were used to introduceanthrax on livestock. The post September 11 attack led to anexpansive emergency preparedness to deter possible future agroterrorist activities. Many forums were conducted to discuss emergencyresponse among emergency planners, department of homeland securityand the house of representative. This was after concerns were raisedfrom training manuals found in Afghanistan indicated Al-Qaida intentto target agriculture as a means terrorist aggression on the Americaneconomy.

Agroterrorism is an insidious terror perpetrated through intentional anddeliberate introduction of pathogens, in livestock, foods and otheragricultural products with the intention of undermining socialeconomic stability of a country by causing mass human aggression. Itis a subset of the larger field of biological and chemical terrorism.Agriculture serves as a strategic driver of U.S economy and providesthe American population with food and the rest is exported. Theeconomic welfare of the nation as the greatest exporter ofagriculture products worldwide could be at risk if successful agroterrorism was perpetrated. Therefore, there is strategic urgency ofgreat efforts to maintain food supply security and safeguardingpotential impacts on public health at national and at global front.

Inbroader sense, agro terrorism could critically impact on the abilityof American nation to ensure security and safety of the citizens ifperpetrated near U.S forces or in the continental U.S. This mayhinder inability to execute military operations thereby demoralizing,debilitating and challenging combatants’ forces effectiveness.Public confidence in the governments’ ability to ensure securitycould be compromised while economic impacts could be devastating tothe nation.

Agricultureterrorism requires minimal efforts sources of materials of agroterrorism are easy to find and agents needed to infect large numbersof livestock or agricultural products are less. This makes itattractive to terrorists because agro terrorism agents are easier toprepare and execute than biological weapons. Several factors makeU.S vulnerable to agro terrorism in the United states agriculturalindustries are concentrated in one geographic area, agriculturalbusiness are individually operated and bad animal husbandly practicesthat reduce animal movements. Increased international air travelcould induce deliberate or intentional infestation. Another factor isincreased reliance on pesticides and herbicides which provideopportunities for agro terrorist individuals to induce pest or cropdiseases which can result in devastating effects to the population.Most hybrid seeds used in crop production in the U.S come fromcountries suspected of covert bioagricultural weapon programs. Thisreliance on few sources of seeds could lead to possibility of agroterrorism considering the laxity in seed control inspection. Otherpotential areas where agro terrorist may target include, animal feed,water points and through adulterated seeds.

Asa result of importance associated with the agriculture sector in theU.S economy, terrorist have noticed that the food supply in theUnited States is the most vulnerable and least protected potentialtarget. Agriculture may not be the first choice of terrorist attacktarget but it represents the largest sector that would viably be aterrorist target. The scope and diversity of agro terrorism provideschallenge on how to address the threat. Many efforts have been put inplace by the United States government by making investigations andcounter possible agro terrorism activities. Recently the U.Sgovernment has upgraded its system to address agro terrorism. Thishas been achieved through establishment of particular strategies tocounter terrorism threats through deterrence, prevention, detection,response, recovery and management strategies.

Whileagro terrorism is a contentious issue in the wake of modern terrorismgreat efforts needs to be put in lace by State government throughoperation based efforts to control and mitigate against agroterrorism. Little progress has being made to address the issue ofpotential effects of agro terrorism. This paper focuses on effortsthat are necessary to prevent potential effects of Agro terrorismattack. However, the script also tries to establish answer to thehypothetical question is there responsive preparedness from theinitiated efforts of preventing effects of agro terrorism?

LiteratureReview

Accordingto Rand 1,nations need to adopt capabilities that are able to address thevulnerabilities posed by agro terrorism. He argues that a series ofinitiatives should be used to improve vulnerability disruption ofagriculture and food industries from agro terrorism. Short term andlong-term initiatives could be used as efforts towardsstandardization and streaming of food supply safety measures within asingle integrated strategy. Rand asserts that a number ofrecommendations can be used by the government to address agroterrorism related cases. One is increasing State and local personnelwith skills of diagnosing and treating foreign animal diseases,enhancing law enforcement and using forensic investigations ofdisease outbreaks, reviewing of disease reporting system andevaluating internal controls and emergency response at food supply toimprove on biosecurity. By integrating food supply and agriculturesafety operations would help ensure minimal conflicts and focusingefforts on potential effects posed by agro terrorism. In addition,Rand proposes that, intelligent measures need to be adopted in orderto identify potential threats. Monitoring programs that detectparticular pathogens should be established, international counterproliferation treaties should be enacted, modifying agriculturalpractices and biosecurity surveillance.

Foxell2,onthe other hand, argues that there is still a gap in the protectivestrategies to deal with effects of agro terrorist cases. He opinesthat majority of the American republic, the government, lawenforcers, intelligence, and food security sectors have not embracedagro terrorism as a serious threat. According to Foxel, he arguesthat the laxity on efforts to address potential threats of agroterrorism stems from the overwhelming fear of possible nuclear andchemical terrorist attack. He further notes that there may besocietal reluctance to understand such things as agro terrorism onfood related substances. In the U.S there is no legal requirement toreport outbreaks of plants and animals diseases which indicates lowefforts in preventing possible agro terrorism attacks.3

However,Grote 4inhis work argues that there has been a number of Federal governmentinitiated programs to deal with prevention and mitigation of agroterrorism. In 2005, a strategic Partnership Program Agro terrorismwas formed in collaboration with the Federal Bureau of Investigation(FBI), U.S department of agriculture (USDA), Food and DrugAdministration (FDA) and the department of Homeland Security. TheStrategic partnership Program Agro terrorism (SPPA) was aimed atsponsoring agriculture industries in carrying out vulnerabilityassessments and ensuring protective measures are put in place tominimize agro terrorism accidents.

TheSPPA has also engaged private sector in recognizing importance ofpreparedness against agro terrorism. Other programs have beinginitiated such as infragard that shares information technologyrelating to terrorism threats, the Criminal Investigation Handbook onAgro terrorism, Food emergency Response Network (FERN) and nationalAnimal identification systems. Despites all these programestablishments, Grote assessments reveals that these programs are maynot be effective efforts in addressing potential effects of agroterrorism. Among his few assessment study reveals that, there couldbe confusions between responding agencies thereby hampering responseefforts, state emergency responders may lack adequate vehicles andthat times needed for transportation of samples may delay leading tomore affects in case of agro terrorism attacks.

Monke5arguesthat the United States government has responded to agro terrorismthrough enacting a number of food safety laws to protect the citizensagainst agro terrorism. These laws include the bioterrorismpreparedness act that regulates food and drug manufacturing, the NEWFDA Rules on food processors and importers and the homeland securityact that is aimed at agricultural border inspections and possessingthe Plum Island Anima Disease Center in New York for research anddiagnosis of animal diseases. All these acts are in efforts toprevent potential effects of agro terrorism attacks.

Seebeckasserts that, in case of possible agro terrorism attack to avoidescalation of the effects the governments needs to apply particularstrategies such as deny advantage if the attackers strategy is tospread propaganda, the government can stop the propaganda through apublic relation response i.e. burning pyres incase of Foot and MouthDisease6.Seebeck further add that, the government can use a response in depthstrategy, in this case the government must be able to use wide rangeof alternatives, tools and operational options to address thesituation7.The last strategy is use of ‘retain the initiative’ whereproactive management of the threat is done.

Methodologyand Research Strategy

Inorder to understand Public health preparedness and efficacy of Foodemergency Response plan (FERP) in relation to efforts necessary toprevent potential agro terrorism effects. A functional exercise wasconducted at the Illinois Department of Public Health, food division,drug and dairies (IDPH) and (DFDD). In this case participants areasked to perform their tasks as they would do in their work placeduring an occurrence of food borne illness. To make the study fullproof Participants do not know the content in the exercises assigned.

Theparticipants are sent to the field and requested to take food samplesfrom processors then prepare and develop questionnaires, interviewparticular cases and communicate with government agencies. The ideabehind this method is to survey on individual responses of theparticipating governmental agencies in regard to the simulated studyexercise. This study is aimed at assessing

a)To assess the interactions and communications of governmentdepartments when faced with agro terrorism attack.

b) To test internal procedures and policies in crisis times

c)To understand local procedures of state and Federal government

d)To test FERP responsibilities in relation to agro terrorism

Inthis research exercise, participants were drawn from public healthdepartments, State police, Illinois Department of Public health andDivision of Food, drugs and Dairies. During the study participantswere allowed to log in on a common blog site. Afterwards, informationabout food poisoning would be posted in the blog site as having beingcollected from the hospitals, health departments and other healthfacilities. More post would be posted on the blog hinting on possiblefood contamination in the area. This would result in theparticipants’ response asking to clarify on the information.

Theaim of this study exercise revolves around the observation andevaluation of communication among participants of differentdepartments. In the study exercise, participants’ response wascollected through participation and observation forms and later groupself evaluation. Afterwards, the study administrators would engagethe IDPH-DFDD personnel in a discussion of their findings andrecommendations. Finally, an integration of all assessmentobservations from the participants and study administrators would bedone to have a harmonized information data.

Afterthe study exercise, results indicated that the research met the aboveobjectives. However, according to the participants’ comments andthe IDPH administration, the study can be improved more by sending tothe participants the exercise information at least one week beforethe study to help participants be fully prepared. Prior the exerciseparticipants should be made to understand the role of communicationin cases of emergency so that participants improve on their emergencypreparedness. Prior study exercise, participants needed to be takenthrough blog website use, participants should also be encouraged toexchange information that appears on the blogs to other agencies andto other participants.

Analysisand Findings

Thisfunctional study exercise was a valuable measure of evaluatingemergency preparedness in regard to agriculture and foodcontamination. In this case the response capabilities of governmentdepartments in relation to emergency situations are identified. Inthis study, the effectiveness of IDPH, FERP, and other public healthpersonnel in relation to emergency execution plan is evaluated. Thisstudy effectively achieved its objective of evaluating the efficiencywith which the Illinois Department of Public Health Food Emergencyresponse plans the study was also effective in analyzing individualpersonnel preparedness in responding to incidences of food poisoning.

Fromthis study exercise, it was observed that majority of thedepartments, IDPH, DFDD, and other Public health agencies do not havea well coordinated emergency preparedness approach. This was notedfrom the lack of communication and sharing critical informationacross other agencies or personnel. Though the participants are drawnfrom real work stations, it was clear that either due to lack of awell coordinated emergency front or they that they have neverexperienced such as case indicates a worrying scenario.

Thefindings of this study and previous findings make it apparent that,in discussing deficiencies of response and preparedness no operationbased exercise had done to test the readiness of these agencies inthe eminent attack of food poisoning. As the literature reviewillustrated, the anti agro terrorism agencies established do not haveelaborate emergency plans, communication strategies to address thethreat or effects of agro terrorism. Despite the training andestablishment of Homeland security and Public Health agencies to dealwith bioterrorism no assessment have being done to check theiremergency preparedness. This study research proves that, though thereare efforts put in place in form of Public Health agencies, Statedepartments, trained personnel and facilities to deal with eminenteffects of agro terrorism, there exist limited or no operation basedpreparedness to emergency attack responsiveness.

Conclusion

Agroterrorism threat is a reality in the modern word especially whenterrorist are considering better options to cause mass humanaggression.

Agroterrorism is an insidious terror perpetrated through intentional anddeliberate introduction of pathogens, in livestock, foods and otheragricultural products with the intention of undermining socialeconomic stability of a country by causing mass human aggression. Itis a subset of the larger field of biological and chemical terrorism.Agriculture serves as a strategic driver of U.S economy and providesthe American population with food and the rest is exported. Theeconomic welfare of the nation as the greatest exporter ofagriculture products worldwide could be at risk if successful agroterrorism was perpetrated. Therefore, there is strategic urgency ofgreat efforts to maintain food supply security and safeguardingpotential impacts on public health at national and at global front.

Inbroader sense, agro terrorism could critically impact on the abilityof American nation to ensure security and safety of the citizens ifperpetrated near U.S forces or in the continental U.S. This mayhinder inability to execute military operations thereby demoralizing,debilitating and challenging combatants’ forces effectiveness.Public confidence in the governments’ ability to ensure securitycould be compromised while economic impacts could be devastating tothe nation.

Agricultureterrorism requires minimal efforts sources of materials of agroterrorism are easy to find and agents needed to infect large numbersof livestock or agricultural products are less. This makes itattractive to terrorists because agro terrorism agents are easier toprepare and execute than biological weapons. Several factors makeU.S vulnerable to agro terrorism in the United states agriculturalindustries are concentrated in one geographic area, agriculturalbusiness are individually operated and bad animal husbandly practicesthat reduce animal movements. Increased international air travelcould induce deliberate or intentional infestation. Another factor isincreased reliance on pesticides and herbicides which provideopportunities for agro terrorist individuals to induce pest or cropdiseases which can result in devastating effects to the population.Most hybrid seeds used in crop production in the U.S come fromcountries suspected of covert bioagricultural weapon programs. Thisreliance on few sources of seeds could lead to possibility of agroterrorism considering the laxity in seed control inspection. Otherpotential areas where agro terrorist may target include, animal feed,water points and through adulterated seeds.

Withlarge percentage of American Society depending in agriculturalproducts for food and economic wellbeing, there is significant dangerto the national security in the aftermath of September 11 attack. TheFederal and State governments have established myriad of programs,laws and security strategies against agro terrorism. However, suchefforts still remain ineffective. Indeed, there is a patchwork ofuncoordinated agro terrorism preparedness and response initiatives.In 2005, a strategic Partnership Program Agro terrorism was formed incollaboration with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), U.Sdepartment of agriculture (USDA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA)and the department of Homeland Security. The Strategic partnershipProgram Agro terrorism (SPPA) was aimed at sponsoring agricultureindustries in carrying out vulnerability assessments and ensuringprotective measures are put in place to minimize agro terrorismaccidents.

TheSPPA has also engaged private sector in recognizing importance ofpreparedness against agro terrorism. Other programs have beinginitiated such as infragard that shares information technologyrelating to terrorism threats, the Criminal Investigation Handbook onAgro terrorism, Food emergency Response Network (FERN) and nationalAnimal identification systems. Despites all these programestablishments, Grote assessments reveals that these programs are maynot be effective efforts in addressing potential effects of agroterrorism. Among his few assessment study reveals that, there couldbe confusions between responding agencies thereby hampering responseefforts, state emergency responders may lack adequate vehicles andthat times needed for transportation of samples may delay leading tomore affects in case of agro terrorism attacks. Short term andlong-term initiatives could be used as efforts towardsstandardization and streaming of food supply safety measures within asingle integrated strategy. Rand asserts that a number ofrecommendations can be used by the government to address agroterrorism related cases. One is increasing State and local personnelwith skills of diagnosing and treating foreign animal diseases,enhancing law enforcement and using forensic investigations ofdisease outbreaks, reviewing of disease reporting system andevaluating internal controls and emergency response at food supply toimprove on biosecurity. By integrating food supply and agriculturesafety operations would help ensure minimal conflicts and focusingefforts on potential effects posed by agro terrorism. In addition,Rand proposes that, intelligent measures need to be adopted in orderto identify potential threats. Monitoring programs that detectparticular pathogens should be established, international counterproliferation treaties should be enacted, modifying agriculturalpractices and biosecurity surveillance.

Asthe study exercise above found, there is no shortage of facilities,policies and personnel to control effects of potential agroterrorism. Only a single integrated, directed, streamlined andstandardized agricultural and food supply measures will effectivelyserve as the best effort to check on the effects of agro terrorism.From this study exercise, it was observed that majority of thedepartments, IDPH, DFDD, and other Public health agencies do not havea well coordinated emergency preparedness approach. This was notedfrom the lack of communication and sharing critical informationacross other agencies or personnel. Though the participants are drawnfrom real work stations, it was clear that either due to lack of awell coordinated emergency front or they that they have neverexperienced such as case indicates a worrying scenario.

Thefindings of this study and previous findings make it apparent that,in discussing deficiencies of response and preparedness no operationbased exercise had done to test the readiness of these agencies inthe eminent attack of food poisoning. As the literature reviewillustrated, the anti agro terrorism agencies established do not haveelaborate emergency plans, communication strategies to address thethreat or effects of agro terrorism. Despite the training andestablishment of Homeland security and Public Health agencies to dealwith bioterrorism no assessment have being done to check theiremergency preparedness. This study research proves that, though thereare efforts put in place in form of Public Health agencies, Statedepartments, trained personnel and facilities to deal with eminenteffects of agro terrorism, there exist limited or no operation basedpreparedness to emergency attack responsiveness.

References

FoxellJr., Joseph W. 2001. “Current Trends in Agroterrorism(Antilivestock, Anticrop, and AntisoilBioagricultural Terrorism) andTheir Potential Impact on Food Security.”StudiesIn Conflict &amp Terrorism24, no. 2: 107-129.

Grote,Jr., John H. 2007. “Agroterrorism: Preparedness and Response,Challenges for the Departments of Defense and Army,”CivilianResearch Project.UnitedStates Army War College.(Arlington,VA: Army Environmental Policy Institute).

Johnson,Yvette J., John A. Herrmann, Richard L. Wallace, Harry F. Troutt, andMaung S. Myint. 2009. &quotDevelopment and Implementation of aFunctional Exercise to Assess Public Health Agency Reponse toFoodborne Bioterrorism.&quot JournalOf Homeland Security &amp Emergency Management6, no. 1: 1-11. InternationalSecurity &amp Counter Terrorism Reference Center,EBSCOhost(accessed March 12, 2014).

Manuel,John. 2008. &quotOversight Without Obstruction.&quot EnvironmentalHealth Perspectives116, no. 11: A486-A489. AcademicSearch Premier,EBSCOhost(accessed March 12, 2014).

Monke,Jim. 2005. &quotAgroterrorism: Threats and Preparedness: RL32521.&quotCongressional Research Service: Report 1-47. International Security &ampCounter Terrorism Reference Center, EBSCOhost (accessed March 12,2014).

Olson,Dean. 2012. &quotAgroterrorism: Threats to America`s Economy andFood Supply.&quot FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin 81, no. 2: 1-9.Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed March 12, 2014).

RANDNational Defense Research Institute. 2003. “Agroterrorism: What isthe threat and what can be done about it?”RAND Research Brief.

Seebeck,Lesley. 2007. “Responding to Systemic Crisis: The Case ofAgroterrorism.”StudiesIn Conflict &amp Terrorism30, no. 8: 691-721

Turvey,Calum G., Benjamin Onyango, and William H. Hallman. 2008. “PoliticalCommunication and Agroterrorism.”StudiesIn Conflict &amp Terrorism31, no. 10: 947-970

1 RAND National Defense Research Institute. 2003. “Agro terrorism: What is the threat and what can be done about it?” RAND Research Brief.

2 Foxell Jr., Joseph W. 2001. “Current Trends in Agroterrorism (Antilivestock, Anticrop, and AntisoilBioagricultural Terrorism) and Their Potential Impact on Food Security.”Studies In Conflict &amp Terrorism 24, no. 2: 107-129.

3 Monke, Jim. 2005. &quotAgroterrorism: Threats and Preparedness: RL32521.&quot Congressional Research Service: Report 1-47. International Security &amp Counter Terrorism Reference Center, EBSCOhost (accessed March 12, 2014).

4 Grote, Jr., John H. 2007. “Agroterrorism: Preparedness and Response, Challenges for the Departments of Defense and Army,”Civilian Research Project. United States Army War College.(Arlington, VA: Army Environmental Policy Institute).

5 Monke, Jim. 2005. &quotAgroterrorism: Threats and Preparedness: RL32521.&quot Congressional Research Service: Report 1-47. International Security &amp Counter Terrorism Reference Center, EBSCOhost (accessed March 12, 2014).

6 Seebeck, Lesley. 2007. “Responding to Systemic Crisis: The Case of Agroterrorism.”Studies In Conflict &amp Terrorism 30, no. 8: 691-721

7 Seebeck, Lesley. 2007. “Responding to Systemic Crisis: The Case of Agroterrorism.”Studies In Conflict &amp Terrorism 30, no. 8: 691-721