St. Paul, Minn. (January 31, 2007) -- The world's economy and the well-being of its citizens depend on the security and sustainability of agriculture. Livestock, often raised among dense populations in unsecured facilities, and crops, often grown in remote areas, are vulnerable to pathogens that are introduced naturally or intentionally. Effective measures to protect crops and livestock against natural or weaponized pathogens, and to respond to such pathogens, are needed to ensure economic and food security, as well as human health.
A panel of experts will discuss the status of current domestic and international agricultural biosecurity measures and needs for their enhancement at the "Agricultural Biosecurity: Toward a Secure Global Economy and Public Health" symposium to be held during the 2007 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting in San Francisco, CA. The symposium, co-organized by Kavita Marfatia Berger, AAAS Center for Science, Technology, and Security Policy, and Jacqueline Fletcher, Oklahoma State University and The American Phytopathological Society, will be held Sunday, February 18, 2007 from 3:30-5:00 p.m. (PST) in Imperial Ballroom B of the Hilton San Francisco. Symposium speakers include:
Intentional contamination of the food supply poses a real and potentially catastrophic threat to society. It has the potential to cause direct morbidity and/or mortality, disruption of food distribution, loss of consumer confidence in the food supply, business failures, trade restrictions, and ripple effects on the economy. The food/agriculture sector's infrastructure must be strengthened to lessen potential harm resulting from deliberate contamination. Busta will present initiatives to minimize or eliminate vulnerabilities, and practical solutions to enhance the ability to rapidly identify, contain, respond, and recover from intentional contamination, both real and threatened.
A safe agricultural system is critical to national security, but U.S. crops, a cornerstone of our nation's economy, are vulnerable to attack. Plant pathogens that are devastating to crops elsewhere, but are not yet present in the U.S., could be easily obtained by terrorists. Potential costs of a terrorist attack include reductions in crop yield and quality, increased production costs and food prices, financial instability of rural communities, and loss of public confidence in the food supply. Fletcher will discuss strategies currently in place and what is still needed to keep U.S. crops safe.
The livestock industry contributes hundreds of billions of dollars to the U.S. economy annually. For years, we have protected our herds and flocks very effectively from both natural and accidentally-introduced disease. Yet, our own efficiency in this shrinking world and in this age of terrorism has made us ever more vulnerable. Franz will discuss vulnerabilities, threats and some technical and non-technical considerations.
Agricultural biosecurity threats can be intentional or inadvertent. This presentation will consider biosecurity issues according to the nature of the threat, the agricultural crop, and the stage of the value-added chain. It will discuss approaches to strengthening incentives to take efficient actions. Particular attention will be paid to what can be learned from food safety studies and recent problems with the U.S. National Animal Identification System.
The American Phytopathological Society (APS) is a non-profit, professional scientific organization. The research of the organization's 5,000 worldwide members advances the understanding of the science of plant pathology and its application to plant health.
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