A Biological Warfare Attack On Agriculture Essay

A Biological Warfare Attack On Agriculture Essay

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A biological warfare attack on agriculture is based on the motive of all terrorist attacks; to elicit fear and anxiety among the public (Roberge n.p.). With this in mind, terrorists have many avenues of attack in regards to our agriculture and food industries. Each section, or characteristic, of this industry has its own areas of security over watch as well as unique security weaknesses. How then could a terrorist attack our agriculture and food industries and how do these characteristics increase our risk?

One characteristic of our food industry is farm animals such as swine and cattle herds and is threatened, for example, by the introduction of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD). This disease can be spread animal to animal via airborne transmittal for a distance of 50 miles (Olsen 2012). This viral disease is highly contagious and can infect, all cloven-hoofed animals – swine, cattle, sheep, deer and goats to name a few. The introduction of the virus would be as easy as infecting hay with the virus and placing it in with the targeted animals. Most affected animals will not die from FMD, but the disease leaves them weakened and unable to produce meat and milk the way they did before being infected (APHIS 2013). Naturally, an outbreak of this disease would result in a wave of export refusal of American meat of products of that animal as well as social panic. Loss of export, means damage to the economy as well as the cost to destroy the infected animals and disease clean-up of the contaminated area(s).

The food distribution chain during transportation is an effective way for terrorists to introduce toxins into the food supply. There are many vulnerabilities in this segment of our industry. An introduction of a biological agent during ...


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...erial (Casagrande 2000). The American agriculture is a trillion dollar industry, a biological attack would result in massive loss of money to the industry as well as loss of public confidence. With so many jobs in this country linked to agriculture, the ripple effect would be widely felt.

These examples show the vulnerabilities of the characteristics of the American agricultural and food industries. The FDA and USDA are hard pressed to inspect the products and facilities to ensure our safety. Stretched thin as those organizations are, the opportunity to exploit weaknesses in our security are present. A biological terrorist attack on our agricultural and food industries could result in death of citizens, but would with no doubt damage our economy, result in the blocking of our food exports, instill fear, and possibly cause the loss of public trust in the government.

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