Jump to content
Washington DC Message Boards

Agroterrorism: Where Are We in the Ongoing War on Terrorism?

Guest Tamara

Recommended Posts

The U.S. agricultural infrastructure is one of the most productive and efficient food-producing systems in the world. Many of the characteristics that contribute to its high productivity and efficiency also make this infrastructure extremely vulnerable to a terrorist attack by a biological weapon. Several experts have repeatedly stated that taking advantage of these vulnerabilities would not require a significant undertaking and that the nation's agricultural infrastructure remains highly vulnerable. As a result of continuing criticism, many initiatives at all levels of government and within the private sector have been undertaken to improve our ability to detect and respond to an agroterrorist attack. However, outbreaks, such as the 1999 West Nile outbreak, the 2001 anthrax attacks, the 2003 monkeypox outbreak, and the 2004 Escherichia coli O157:H7 outbreak, have demonstrated the need for improvements in the areas of communication, emergency response and surveillance efforts, and education for all levels of government, the agricultural community, and the private sector. We recommend establishing an interdisciplinary advisory group that consists of experts from public health, human health, and animal health communities to prioritize improvement efforts in these areas. The primary objective of this group would include establishing communication, surveillance, and education benchmarks to determine current weaknesses in preparedness and activities designed to mitigate weaknesses. We also recommend broader utilization of current food and agricultural preparedness guidelines, such as those developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Michael Herndon

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today released a new tool to help the U.S. food industry, its federal partners, state and local regulators, as well as the international community determine the vulnerability of individual food facilities to biological, chemical, or radiological attack.


The software program, called the CARVER + Shock Software Tool, is a science-based prevention strategy to safeguard the food supply. This tool is an example of the type of approach currently being developed as part of a broader food protection strategy currently under development by FDA.


"FDA's goal in developing the CARVER + Shock software is to maximize protection of the American food supply," said FDA Assistant Commissioner for Food Protection David Acheson, M.D. "The relative risk-ranking methodology used by the CARVER + Shock software tool has been designed to assist facility operators in identifying potential vulnerabilities and assist in providing preventive measures to increase the defense of products and operations."


CARVER + Shock was developed by FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, in collaboration with Sandia National Laboratories, the Institute of Food Technologists, U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service, National Center for Food Protection and Defense, State representatives, and private industry representatives.


The name of the risk assessment software is derived from the acronym CARVER, which refers to six attributes used to evaluate targets for attack.


Criticality: What impact would an attack have on public health and the economy?

Accessibility: How easily can a terrorist access a target?

Recuperability: How well could a system recover from an attack?

Vulnerability: How easily could an attack be accomplished?

Effect: What would be the direct loss from an attack, as measured by loss in production?

Recognizability: How easily could a terrorist identify a target?

The CARVER tool also evaluates a seventh attribute—the psychological impacts of an attack or "shock" attributes of a target. For example, the psychological impact tends to be greater when a large number of deaths is involved or if the target has historical or cultural significance.


CARVER + Shock is the latest in a series of food defense efforts by FDA following the terrorist attacks of September 2001. Since then, FDA has worked closely with its partners in federal, state and local government, and with the food industry to assess existing food defense measures and augment them for improved protection.


One such effort, the Strategic Partnership Program Agroterrorism Initiative, helps identify sector-specific vulnerabilities, determine research gaps and needs, and increase coordination between the federal government and industry stakeholders.


In 2006, FDA launched the ALERT Initiative, designed to raise industry awareness of food defense and preparedness issues. CARVER + Shock builds on ALERT, and allows a more formal and detailed food defense assessment.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...