Agroterrorism, Biosecurity, and Extension
Agroterrorism, or any biological attack against the agricultural industry/food supply, has become a growing concern in the United States since the September 11 terrorism acts. The state of Indiana passed a law in 2001 classifying agroterrorism as a weapon of mass-destruction. Pennsylvania soon followed, passing a similar law. Government officials speculate that the cost in terms of damages is directly proportional to the time it takes to diagnose the cause, and could easily range up to $140 billion. The Entomology and Plant Pathology Department at University of Tennessee is assisting with several Federal and Regional Programs that monitor and track insects and plant diseases.
In 1996, wheat fields in Arizona, Texas, and California were affected by the karnal bunt fungus, resulting in a massive quarantine. Other plant pathogens that could spread throughout the US as a result of agroterrorism include soybean rust and Sudden Oak Death. West Nile Virus, La Crosse, Encephalitis, anthrax, and Hoof-and-mouth disease are a few diseases being tracked by Federal, State and local county health officials.
Biosecurity is a developing field focused on preparing for and responding to bioterrorism. This includes surveillance, biodetection, early warning systems, planning and preparedness, and consequences management. Biosecurity attempts to ensure that ecologies sustaining either plants or animals are maintained. It also includes preventing biological pests/diseases from entering the area. New Zealand's successful Biosecurity Council has existed since 1997, and it is probable that the United States will take and initiate examples from their program.
Highlights in Agroterrorism and Biosecurity
Contact This Department
Elizabeth Long, Extension Specialist
2505 E. J. Chapman Drive
370 Plant Biotechnology Bldg.
Knoxville, TN 37996-4560