Johanns touts USDA bioterror prevention efforts

US - U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns keynoted the Second Annual International Symposium on Agro-Terrorism in Kansas City today. He told a group of several hundred public health, military professionals and ag industry officials the U.S. must defend the food chain from terrorist attack for the good of the entire nation.
calendar icon 28 September 2006
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"Agriculture is a complex and it's a unique industry," Johanns said. "Attack it successfully and you shake the confidence of this country."

While Johanns said there was no identified terrorist threat to U.S. agriculture, that didn't mean America shouldn't be ready for one. "We know of know specific current threat to our food or our ag sectors," Johanns said. "However, we know that there are individuals who want to harm us, and we are aware that there are people with the knowledge and the capability of sabotaging our food supply," he added. "And so you see we have no choice - we must be prepared, we must be vigilant and we must make every effort to prevent any instance that threatens or food and our ag sectors."

Johanns laid out a six-point strategy to prevent or deal with a bioterror attack, including threat awareness, enhancing food surveillance, forging strategic partnerships, having robust response capability, public information programs and investing in research and development. He said the Bush administration would spend $253 million this year and $320 million next year to implement strategy, known as the Food and Agricultural Defense Initiative.

Source: Brownfield Network

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