PROTECTING AGAINST TERROR
FBI Convenes Agroterrorism Summit
The unfolding story of how tainted spinach
grown in California has killed at least one
and sickened dozens in 25 states is a stark
reminder of how important it is to protect
the nation's food supply.
there are no indications that suspicious activity
led to the recent E.coli outbreak, the subject
is likely to emerge this week during the second
annual International Symposium on Agroterrorism
in Kansas City, a week-long summit of law
enforcement and agriculture officials on the
front lines of preventing, detecting, and
investigating intentional attacks on the U.S.
food supply. The symposium, which is expected
to draw about 1,000 attendees from 21 countries,
is sponsored by our Kansas City division and
the Joint Terrorism Task Force-first responders,
along with FDA and USDA officials, in the
event of an attack.
goal is to protect and prevent," says
FBI Special Agent Craig Watz, one of the event's
organizers. "If agroterrorism is to occur,
how do we best contain it? How do we best
respond to it?"
the event of an attack, the FBI would focus
on the criminal investigation while the FDA
and USDA center their attention on containing
the public health risks. The FBI would collect
the suspected hazardous material and send
it to a network of labs with standardized
procedures for identifying biological or chemical
pathogensa process that 10 years ago
took days today takes hours. If the samples
were positive, the FBI would establish a Joint
Operations Center with representatives from
Homeland Security, the Department of Defense,
HHS, EPA, FDA, and FEMA, along with local
law enforcement, public health officials,
together, sharing leads and information, we
have the best chance of identifying and containing
any potential threat and finding the guilty
party," FBI Director Robert S. Mueller
said last year in his keynote remarks at the
inaugural agroterrorism summit.
Watz said last year's event yielded two strong
initiatives that build on the strength of
said his goal is to build on last year's foundation.
He hopes that by convening key influential
people, the message will trickle down to farmers,
producers, and distributors, who will think
more about how to "harden their own potential
last year called the group our "first
line of defense" and said it's their
responsibility to report suspicions to their
governing agencies, local law enforcement,
or the FBI. Time is critical.
cannot wait for a calling card from a terrorist
to announce a pending or future attack,"
Muller said. "Our suspicion may turn
out to be nothing, but if it is something
significant, we cannot afford to lose that
critical response time."
Symposium on Agroterrorism
America From Agroterrorism
Speech at 2005 Agroterrorism Symposium