Preventing terrorism in the food industry
By Geni Wren Friday, April 30, 2010
Agriculture and our food supply is not immune from terrorism, however, the good news is that the potential remains lower than one might think. History shows us that agricultural or food supply terrorism has traditionally not worked that well.
Speaking at the Animal Agriculture Alliance meeting in Arlington, Va., this week, Homeland Security Today editor David Silverberg described some early attempts at livestock and food supply terrorism that failed. For instance, during World War I, there was a determined effort by the Germans to kill their enemies’ horses and mules with anthrax and glanders in Romania, Spain, Norway, Argentina and the U.S. “It was one of the largest and well-organized animal sabotage attempts,” explained Silverberg (who showed a WWI photo of a horse wearing a gas mask),” but it just did not work very well.”
During WWII, Japan had an active biological program against the Soviet Union in Mongolia. He said that Japanese agents used anthrax and rinderpest and in 1931 tried to poison a League of Nations delegation with cholera-tainted fruit. That effort also failed.
More recently in 1979, the Arab Revolutionary Council poisoned Israeli oranges with mercury, disrupting Israeli trade. The problem with that tactic is that is damaged other countries’ trade. “It showed the unpredictability of agroterrorism,” Silverberg said. “They got everyone mad at them and did not achieved their larger political objective.” Read More
Agroterrorism certainly needs to be taken seriously. Besides the examples given in this article, there are many others. The FBI’s number one domestic terrorist threat is the Animal Liberation Front. These folks have terrorized many farms and ranches across the country. Whether it’s turning livestock loose, destroying research facilities, or trying to kill researchers, they employ terrorism as their main weapon. Taking precautions and keeping our eyes open for suspicious behavior in rural areas is our first line of defense for our food supply. Unfortunately that is the world we live in today so everyone needs to be part of the solution.