Hitting America's Soft Underbelly

Hitting America's Soft Underbelly: The Potential Threat of Deliberate Biological Attacks Against the U.S. Agricultural and Food Industry

Copyright Date: 2004
Edition: 1
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 64
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  • Book Info
    Hitting America's Soft Underbelly
    Book Description:

    Over the past decade, the United States has endeavored to increase its ability to detect, prevent, and respond to terrorist threats and incidents. The agriculture sector and the food industry in general, however, have received comparatively little attention with respect to protection against terrorist incidents. This study aims to expand the current debate on domestic homeland security by assessing the vulnerabilities of the agricultural sector and the food chain to a deliberate act of biological terrorism and exploring the likely outcomes of a successful attack.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-3594-3
    Subjects: Health Sciences, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  4. Tables
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Summary
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  6. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  7. Acronyms
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  8. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    Over the past decade, the United States has endeavored to increase its ability to detect, prevent, and respond to terrorist threats and incidents. Much of this focus on augmenting homeland security, which has involved considerable financial outlays, has been aimed at upgrading the public infrastructure through the development of vulnerability threat analyses designed to maximize both anti-terrorism and consequence management efforts.

    Although many gaps remain in the United States government’s overall strategy to mitigate domestic terrorism in the country, investments in incident preparedness, training, and response have contributed to the development of at least basic emergency management command structures. These...

  9. CHAPTER TWO The Vulnerability of U.S. Agriculture to Bio-Attacks
    (pp. 7-18)

    For a variety of reasons, the U.S. agricultural and food industry remains at risk to disruption and sabotage from deliberate bio-attacks. The sector’s vulnerabilities principally stem from six factors:

    Concentrated and intensive contemporary farming practices in the United States

    Increased susceptibility of livestock to disease

    A general lack of farm/food-related security and surveillance

    An inefficient, passive disease-reporting system that is further hampered by a lack of trust between regulators and producers

    Veterinarian training that tends not to emphasize foreign animal diseases (FADs) or large-scale husbandry

    A prevailing focus on aggregate, rather than individual, livestock statistics.

    Each of these factors is...

  10. CHAPTER THREE Potential Impact of a Major Act of Agroterrorism
    (pp. 19-32)

    Notwithstanding the relative operational ease of agricultural bioassaults, there would be little point in investing the time and effort to carry out attacks against livestock and the food chain if the impact of such actions was not likely to be that great. The potential ramifications of terrorist actions are an important consideration in any vulnerability-risk assessment and, as such, have direct relevance to possible agroterror threat contingencies in the United States.

    The effects of a concerted bio-assault on the U.S. food base would be far-reaching and could extend beyond the immediate agricultural community to affect other segments of society. It...

  11. CHAPTER FOUR Policy Recommendations
    (pp. 33-42)

    The United States, more by luck than by design, has not experienced the type of major agricultural and other food-related disasters to which other countries and polities, such as the United Kingdom, Malaysia, and Taiwan, have been subjected in recent times. As a result, there has been no real appreciation of either the consequences or the potential threat of such events taking place in this country.

    This false sense of security has been further fueled by the agricultural sector’s relative “invisibility” in American society.¹ This situation is reflected in the structure of the U.S. agricultural emergency preparedness-and-response system, which has...

  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 43-48)