Hitting America's Soft Underbelly: The Potential Threat of Deliberate Biological Attacks against the U.S. Agricultural and Food Industry

Hitting America's Soft Underbelly: The Potential Threat of Deliberate Biological Attacks against the U.S. Agricultural and Food Industry

Hitting America's Soft Underbelly: The Potential Threat of Deliberate Biological Attacks against the U.S. Agricultural and Food Industry

Hitting America's Soft Underbelly: The Potential Threat of Deliberate Biological Attacks against the U.S. Agricultural and Food Industry

Synopsis

Assess the vulnerabilities of the agricultural sector and the food chain to a deliberate act of biological terrorism and explores the likely outcome of a successful attack.

Excerpt

Over the past decade, the United States has endeavored to increase its ability to detect, prevent, and respond to terrorist threats and incidents. This focus on protecting the country from attacks, which has involved considerable financial outlays, has contributed to an increasingly well-protected public infrastructure. Critical to this endeavor has been the development of vulnerability-threat analyses that are designed to maximize both antiterrorist efforts and consequence management procedures. Agriculture, however, has received comparatively little attention with respect to protection against terrorist incidents. in terms of accurate threat assessments and consequence management procedures, the agriculture sector, and the food industry in general, by and large has not been a part of the wide-ranging emphasis that has been given to critical infrastructure protection in the United States.

This report aims to expand the current debate on domestic homeland security by assessing the vulnerabilities of the agricultural sector and the food chain to a deliberate act of biological terrorism. the report begins with a discussion of the methods used to conduct the analysis and the current state of research on threats to agricultural livestock and produce. It then outlines agriculture's importance to the U.S. economy, assesses the vulnerabilities in the general food industry, examines the capabilities that are needed to exploit those vulnerabilities, and explores the likely outcomes from a successful attack. the report next considers the question of why terrorists have yet to employ agricultural assaults as a method of operation and concludes with proposed recommendations for the U.S. policymaking community.

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