The Case for Better Agroterrorism Preparedness

Image Credit: Zsuzsanna Tóth

Excerpt from The Pandora Report:

An attack on the food supply gives the perpetrating group several benefits. The psychological and economic effect of targeting food supplies would be substantial; such an attack would be relatively low cost when compared to the economic effects it could cause; and would allow a weaker group to lessen the power imbalance between themselves and the state they are targeting.

Although scholars and policymakers largely agree that agroterrorism has much lower costs and technical barriers than bioterrorism with a human pathogen, there is a disagreement over whether an attack of any significant scale is technically feasible for terrorist groups. I argue that an attack on the food supply as a psychological mechanism of terror, coupled with the effects that would have on the US and global economy, merits taking the issue of agroterrorism seriously.

To get an accurate and timely assessment of US prevention and response capabilities, all agencies responsible for preparedness and response to agroterrorism should conduct a tabletop exercise wherein they respond to an agroterrorism attack. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently established a Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) Office, whose mission is “to counter attempts by terrorists or other threat actors to carry out an attack against the United States or its interests using a weapon of mass destruction.” As the CWMD Office merges extant DHS offices that deal with WMD, leaders have an opportunity to consider agroterrorism as it relates to their mission space. The CWMD Office should sponsor the suggested tabletop exercise and use its findings to identify gaps in existing capabilities.

Read the full article by Stevie Kiesel, MS at the The Pandora Report


Mitigation Strategies to Protect Food Against Intentional Adulteration FDA

Food Defense Guidance Documents & Regulatory Information FDA

Agroterrorism and Foot-And-Mouth Disease: Is the United States Prepared?

Agroterrorism: What Is the Threat and What Can Be Done About It? RAND Corporation

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