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Agro-terrorism threat

Report calls for tighter controls and more research on agricultural pathogens.

Laura DeFrancesco(defrancesco1@earthlink.net)

The United States has no national plan to defend against the intentional introduction of biological agents in an act of agricultural terror, according to a new report by the National Research Council of the US National Academies of Science. The 194-page report, 'Countering Agricultural Bioterrorism', was commissioned by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). It calls for the immediate compilation of a prioritized list of potential threat agents and definition of the roles of the various federal and state agencies that would respond to an intentional release of such agents. In the long term, the report urges increasing basic understanding of plant and animal pathogens so that new tools for detecting and controlling an outbreak can be developed.

According to panel member Jim Cook, a wheat researcher from Washington State University, the likelihood of agricultural bioterrorism is low but the possibility is inevitable. "We need to take...

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