Experts: U.S. must protect food supply

USA - By Maria Sudekum Fisher, Associated Press. KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The United States needs to continue taking steps to protect its food supply from terrorism just as it would its buildings, airports and other infrastructure, FBI deputy director John S. Pistole said.
calendar icon 26 September 2006
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"The threat from agroterrorism may not be widely recognized, but the threat is real and the impact could be devastating," Pistole said Monday. "The recent E. coli outbreak in California spinach has captured the public attention even without a terror nexus."

Pistole, keynote speaker at the second International Symposium on Agroterrorism, pointed to a nonterrorism example - a single case of mad cow disease in the United States in 2003 - to illustrate the potential impact.

"Days after the discovery, 53 countries banned U.S. beef imports. The economic loss to the U.S. cattle industry from the loss of beef imports just to Japan was more than $2 billion a year," Pistole said. "Almost three years later, countries have reopened their borders to U.S. beef, but exports still have not reached 2003 levels."

Pistole told about 1,000 delegates from 21 countries attending the four-day symposium that terrorist groups like al Qaeda have shown interest in U.S. agriculture and could threaten the food supply. He said while there was no "specific communicated threat at this time," the "absence of a communicated threat does not prove the absence of a threat."

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