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Agroterrorism--Why We're Not Ready: A Look at the Role of Law Enforcement

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2006
4 pages
This overview of NIJ-sponsored research on "agroterrorism" (intentional contamination of the Nation's food supply) addresses who would lead the response to such an attack, how to prevent it, and the recommendation for a new security paradigm.
Research funded by NIJ (National Institute of Justice) recommends that in order to protect the Nation's 2.1 million farms, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and other intelligence-gathering agencies should work with local and State law enforcement and the livestock industry to develop a national plan to prevent, respond to, and ultimately recover from an incident of agroterrorism. Agricultural experts are most concerned about the intentional introduction of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) into the food supply. FMD causes painful blisters on the tongues, hooves, and teats of cloven-hoofed animals, making them unable to walk, be milked, eat, and drink. Although people generally cannot contract FMD, they can carry the virus up to 48 hours and transmit it to animals. An FMD epidemic could require the mass slaughter and disposal of millions of animals. It could halt the domestic and international sale of meat and meat products for months or years. This report suggests priorities for the law enforcement response to such an attack. In addition, law enforcement agencies should begin now to develop a plan to prevent an agroterrorism attack. This involves becoming informed about the nature of likely agroterrorism attacks and becoming involved in intelligence networks that focus on information related to such attacks. Specialized training is needed, along with the performance of joint planning and operational exercises with other agencies and stakeholders in local agricultural enterprises. 4 recommended readings

Date Published: December 1, 2006