Agroterrorism: Targeting America’s “Soft Underbelly”

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This month’s FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin features an article by Cpt. Dean Olson of the Douglas County, Nebraska Sheriff’s Office entitled, “Agroterrorism: Threats to America’s Economy and Food Supply” . Drawing on the works of noted terrorism experts such as Peter Chalk, Jim Monke and Bruce Hoffman, Cpt. Olson reminds us that the agricultural sector requires constant surveillance due to the threat of attack via pathogens. Among these is the virus responsible for Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) which would have a devastating effect upon the livestock industry if released in the United States. Due to the movement of animals from farm to market and the ease of transmission of the virus, an FMD outbreak could affect as many as 25 states in as little as 5 days. Some researchers have estimated that economic damages resulting from an outbreak could reach $60 billion. The author presents four potential sets of perpetrators for such an attack, an overview of the American food production and distribution system as well as a summary of law enforcement preparedness and response.

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