Agroterrorism: Threats and Preparedness [Updated August 25, 2006]   [open pdf - 474KB]

"The potential of terrorist attacks against agricultural targets (agroterrorism) is increasingly recognized as a national security threat, especially after the events of September 11, 2001. Agroterrorism is a subset of bioterrorism, and is defined as the deliberate introduction of an animal or plant disease with the goal of generating fear, causing economic losses, and/or undermining social stability. This report addresses the use of biological weapons against agriculture, rather than terrorists using agricultural inputs or equipment in attacks against non-agricultural targets. For example, the Department of Transportation issued regulations for developing security plans to protect dangerous agricultural materials such as fuels, chemicals, and fertilizers against theft. Legislation in the 109th Congress (H.R. 3197, H.R. 1389, and S. 1141) would restrict the handling of ammonium nitrate, an agricultural fertilizer that can be converted into an explosive. Another example is the concern over misuse of small aircraft, particularly crop-dusters, to spread biological weapons. This report focuses primarily on biological weapons (rather than chemical weapons) because biological weapons generally are considered the more potent agroterrorism threat. This report also focuses more on agricultural production than food processing and distribution, although the later is discussed."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL32521
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