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Dernière mise à jour : Mai 2021

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BIOlogie et GEstion des Risques en agriculture - Champignons Pathogènes des Plantes

Cropbiosecurity & Agroterrorism watch

DISCLAIMER - Information reported in this personnal webpage, including allegations, is mostly "raw", is public in sense their are already available in a publication or a web site, and is written under the responsibility of its authors. The current mention of this information does not constitute endorsement and does not engage the responsibility of INRAE.

#137 - Allegations that US seeks agroterrorism in Syria by distributing contaminated wheat seeds

Dec 2021

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CAW-137

The Governor of the Syrian city of Hasakah said that the US military had distributed large quantities of contaminated wheat seeds among Syrian farmers in the territories under the occupation of its forces and separatist militias (...). General "Ghassan Khalil", the governor of Hasakah, who forms a committee of agricultural experts to ensure about the safety of the samples revealed to Tasnim that experiments conducted by the Committee of Agricultural Experts show that the American-provided wheat seeds taken by farmers are infected with the "Anguina tritici" or "Tilletia laevis", as well as having "bacterial stalk rot of corn”. "These two pests or diseases in American wheat seeds contaminate the soil and make it uncultivable, reducing the fertility of the land by more than 83 percent after sowing the modified seeds," said the Governor. "These pests not only damage agricultural fields where American modified wheat seeds are grown, but also transfer the pest from one land to another," Khalil said. Khalil stressed that only one of these pest-infested seeds is enough to infect a large area of ​​agricultural land, adding, “the amount of seeds modified by the American occupying forces reaches 3,000 tons, which is enough to destroy all these agricultural lands - that happened to be the main suppliers of the country's food basket - in the Syrian island region, making them uncultivable for decades.”

#136 - Agroterrorism: National defense assessment, strategies, and capabilities (Mukherjee, 2021)

Apr 2021

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CAW-136

Agroterrorism is not a much well-known and well discussed topic like bioterrorism. Under the circumstances of ever changing socio-economic status of the World, terrorists are always in search of something that destroys the economy and humanity. One of the easiest approaches that can impact the economy largely is targeting a nation’s agricultural practice and food supply. In a country like India this kind of malicious attack can result in complete collapsing of nation financially and socially. In this study, a number of international and national disasters have been described in terms of agroterrorism to make everyone aware of this unforeseen catastrophe.

#135 - Agroterrorism: National defense assessment, strategies, and capabilities (Mauroni & Norton, 2020)

Jul 2020

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CAW-135

The United States Air Force Center for Strategic Deterrence Studies (USAF CSDS), in partnership with Auburn University, collected a selection of academic studies on the challenges of agroterrorism to the United States. These chapters include discussions on the historical threat and contemporary challenges, U.S. policies and capabilities, and recommendations on how to improve U.S. policies and capabilities for the future.

#134 - China seeds: A biological attack on America? (Chang, 2020)

Jul 2020

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CAW-134

Residents in all 50 states have received packages of seeds, sent unsolicited from China. Many of the packages, mailed through the Chinese state-run postal system, were mislabeled as "jewelry" for U.S. Customs purposes. "DO NOT plant them," officials in every state have warned. "They could be invasive, meaning they may have the potential to introduce diseases to local plants, or could be harmful to livestock," the Montana Department of Agriculture noted in a statement on Monday, referring to the Chinese seeds. "Treat them like they are radioactive, like they are Kryptonite," said Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller. Trump administration officials now need to ask one question: Are the seeds a biological-warfare attack on the United States? (...) The State Department's most recent report to Congress on worldwide compliance with arms-control treaties, made public June 23, contends China possessed an "offensive biological warfare program from the early 1950s to at least the late 1980s." There is, the report states, "no available information" to show Beijing fulfilled its treaty obligations "to destroy or to divert to peaceful purposes" its program. (...) Some think the packages could be part of a "brushing scam" — an effort to create fake customer reviews on online retail platforms — but that appears unlikely. For one thing, there is no indication these seeds — there are several varieties of them — are either branded or are offered for sale. Yet whatever the reason for their distribution — commercial or geopolitical — the seeds can cause great damage to the United States. "For forty years, the Chinese have used unconventional tactics to further their ambitious goal of defeating the United States," said Brandon Weichert of the Weichert Report to this publication. "They employed economic warfare, lawfare, information warfare, and cyber warfare. (...) Now, they may be trying their hand at ecological warfare."

#133 - Agroterrorism in Indian context (Datta et al., 2020)

Apr 2020

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CAW-133

In the context of change in global scenario of terrorism and economic competition, the risk of deliberate attack on agriculture is increasing. In a country, like India, whose economy is largely dependent on agriculture produce and exports, any such malicious attack can grossly destabilise the socio-economic structure. Additionally, an attack on major food crops can lead to potential threat to food security, subsequently, leading to destabilised law and order situation of a state. It is therefore very important to understand the risks and threats of agroterrorism for a given country in order to be prepared for any such circumstance. In this review the authors discuss different aspects of agroterrorism, its history, possibilities of such incidences in Indian scenario and mitigation strategies, which can be achieved through regular surveillance of pathogens in vulnerable crop ecosystems. They also describe a recent episode of outbreak of cotton leaf curl disease [caused by leaf curl virus transmitted by the whitefly Bemisia tabaci] in the Northwest Indian cotton growing region and discuss it from the perspective of a possible threat on one of the most important economic crops of our country.

#132 - Sewing terror: price dynamics of the strawberry needle crisis (Aleks & Scheitrum, 2020)

Mar 2020

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CAW-132

In September 2018, a former strawberry‐picking supervisor for a strawberry farm in New South Wales was arrested for inserting sewing needles in hundreds of punnets of fresh strawberries sold in retail stores across several Australian states. This paper analyses the 2018 Australian strawberry needle scare as a case study on the market impacts of agro‐terrorism events. The authors develop a novel four‐step procedure to estimate the effects of the strawberry needle contamination on wholesale fresh strawberry prices. Their results indicate a drop in wholesale fresh strawberries prices of about 20% while the needle crisis was ongoing. However, public and private supply restrictions caused wholesale prices to rise by up to 94% relative to expected dynamics over several weeks in the immediate wake of the incident.

#131 - Stink bugs [Halyomorpha halys] invade Georgia and Russia blames the US: Could an insect war be hatching in the Caucasus?

Jun 2019

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CAW-131

The foreign intruder – known to scientists as Halyomorpha halys – started appearing in Georgia three years ago and since then has overrun hundreds of homes and many acres of farmland in the western part of the country (...). Native to Northeast Asia, the pest has in recent decades become a global problem. While a nuisance for households, it is a disaster for farmers. The bugs feast on fruits and vegetables (...). “It is absolutely the worst plant pest that we have ever faced,” Nikoloz Meskhi, head of the Plant Protection Department of Georgia’s National Food Agency, told Eurasianet (...). The bug is even making a stink in Georgia’s politics, provoking fierce political squabbles, with government opponents accusing the authorities of a slow and clumsy response to the crisis (...). In a Cold War-style allegation, Russia’s animal and plant surveillance agency, Rosselkhoznadzor, asserted that American military scientists developed a mutant version of the stink bug in an American-funded biomedical laboratory in Tbilisi to wage an entomological war on Russia and its ally Abkhazia. “The stink bug in Abkhazia produces new generations six times per season, which is a colossal increase [from the norm]. It did not happen without some genetic modification,” declared Yulya Melano, an official with Rosselkhoznadzor. The stink bug reproduction cycle, in fact, depends on the climate. In Georgia, one bug can lay about 250 eggs per year.

#130 - Entomological warfare (Serale et al., 2018)

Nov 2018

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CAW-130

This poster was presented to the 4th International CBRNe Workshop (Rome, 8th November 2018).

Purpose: Analyze the threat of the use of insects as weapons and the response capacities of the Italian State.
Background: Insects are already naturally an excellent vehicle for diseases, raising them and infecting them or feeding them with infected material is extremely simple. Once released into the environment they can infest an area for years. Insects can be effectively used for biological warfare but they also have interesting uses for the dispersal of
radioisotopes, an occult dirty bomb! Or Chemicals agents.
Method and materials: Study and analysis of possible uses, zoonoses and "case studies".
Finding: There are no prevention protocols in the routine for operators and rescuers. There is poor training for the zoonosis problem. The response of public bodies in the event of a possible attack is slow and has no standard or inter-force protocols. The Italian public health and relief system is fragmented and already several bodies (there is no effective exchange of information)
Conclusions: In case of an epidemic or entomological war, if prevention protocols, early warning and inter-force response are not developed, it could cause huge losses both in the population and among the operators.

#129 - Agricultural research, or a new bioweapon system? (Reeves et al., 2018)

Oct 2018

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CAW-129

Witches' broom isn't native to Bahia. Rather, it grows more than 1,200 miles away, in the Amazonian rainforest. The first farmers to discover the disease in their trees encountered it in an unconventional way: "I found two cocoa trees with dry witches' broom tied onto them in the middle of their trunks," José Roberto Benjamin, a farm owner in Camacan, tells the camera in the documentary The Knot. Others discovered it the same way, as if, in an act of bioterrorism, the disease was introduced intentionally.

#128 - Chocolate, bioterrorism and the birth of Brazilian funk. Is a plot to topple the aristocracy to blame for the collapse of cacao in Brazil?

Aug 2018

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CAW-128

In the 1990s, the cacao farmers of Brazil fell into a collective depression. Some hanged themselves, others dosed themselves with rat poison, still others walked around crying and saying they didn't have anything to eat. The cacao pods on orchards throughout Bahia sat stagnant on their branches, rotting from the inside out. A coven of foreign, tightly gnarled stalks covered the trees themselves. The country had been the world's third-largest producer of cocoa beans, but it had fallen from grace and even had to import beans from West Africa to satisfy its residents' sweet tooth.

Juliana Pinheiro Aquino remembers it well. "My father was depressed. He was very sad," she said (...).

How could devastation happen on such a definitive level, especially in an area that had been farming cacao for more than 100 years? Two words: Moniliophthora perniciosa. The fungus causes a disease called witches' broom that spells disaster for cacao farming, systematically transforming healthy trees into possessed messes with rotting pods and nasty-tasting beans (...).

Agricultural genetic technologies typically achieve their agronomic aims by introducing laboratory-generated modifications into target species' chromosomes. However, the speed and flexibility of this approach are limited, because modified chromosomes must be vertically inherited from one generation to the next. In an effort to remove this limitation, an ongoing research program funded by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) aims to disperse infectious genetically modified viruses that have been engineered to edit crop chromosomes directly in fields. This is genetic engineering through horizontal transfer, as opposed to vertical inheritance. The regulatory, biological, economic, and societal implications of dispersing such horizontal environmental genetic alteration agents (HEGAAs) into ecosystems are profound. Further, this program stipulates that the means of delivery of these viral HEGAAs into the environment should be insect-based dispersion (1). In the context of the stated aims of the DARPA program, it is our opinion that the knowledge to be gained from this program appears very limited in its capacity to enhance U.S. agriculture or respond to national emergencies (in either the short or long term). Furthermore, there has been an absence of adequate discussion regarding the major practical and regulatory impediments toward realizing the projected agricultural benefits. As a result, the program may be widely perceived as an effort to develop biological agents for hostile purposes and their means of delivery, which—if true—would constitute a breach of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC).

#127 - Insects as biological weapons (Chaudry et al., 2017)

Nov 2017

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CAW-127

This study was conducted at University of Gujrat during 2017 to 2018 as a term paper for Master of Philosophy. The data regarding use of Insects as Biological Weapons was reviewed and compiled as a review paper from various published articles of international reputed journals annual/environmental reports of recognized organization and e-books. Use of entomological weapons is a wide field of research. Insects were used as biological weapons from ancient times and this concept is very old. Different insects can be used for this purpose by different ways. Insects can be used as biological weapons against crops, animals and human beings. Insects may be used as direct pests against crop or they may be used as vectors to spread diseases in animals and human beings. In both cases their effects are devastating. House Flies, Oriental Rat Flea, Colorado potato beetle, Ticks, screw worm larvae are the examples of some insects which can be used as biological weapons. Use of biological weapons in war against humans is however illegal.

#126 - The tomato leafminer (Tuta absoluta) attack in Nigeria: Effect of climate change or agroterrorism?

Jul 2017

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CAW-126

"During the 2016 tomato season, a sporadic attack by invasive tomato leafminer, Tuta absoluta, nicknamed ‘tomato ebola’ occurred in the Northern parts of the country, where tomato production was most concentrated (Villareal, 1980). The pest caused over 80% loss of tomato production in the first cycle, and resulted in shortage of raw materials supply to the newly developed tomato processing industry, which subsequently closeddown. The development of the tomato leaf miner was considered sudden and viewed by many stakeholders as an act of sabotage or agro-terrorism, targeted against agricultural production in Nigeria (...). The incident occurred in the Northern part of Nigeria that has witnessed in the past six years various degrees of instability and terrorist attacks, adding to the suspicion of an attack. There were insinuations that the attack was a deliberate act, targeted at coercing growers and the government into adopting Genetically Modified (GMO) Seeds (Anon, 2016; Jibrin, 2016). Agro-bioterrorist agents were suspected to be responsible for the release of T. absoluta to undermine local production and technically, to enforce adoption of genetically modified (GMO) tomatoes which cannot replicate. The implications therefore could be a perpetual dependence of Nigerian tomato growers on GMO seeds of resistant hybrids (a form of horticultural colonialism). The use of Terminator Seed Technology (TST) to destroy indigenous tomato landraces in developing countries, and the implications on food security and biodiversity of plant species have been reported (Yusuf, 2010)."

#125 - JFK Documents: US officials considered destroying Cuban crops (sugar) through "biological agents which would appear to be natural"

Nov 2017

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CAW-125

Government releases classified JFK assassination documents – as it happened. Many of the documents pertain to anti-Cuban efforts by the US government in the 1960s and 70s, including “Operation Mongoose”. In this 1962 file, the CIA considers “the possibility of producing crop failures by the introduction of biological agents which would appear to be of natural origin.”US government releases 2,800 files, sending historians, researchers and conspiracy theorists scrambling for fresh revelations.

#124 - Federal (U.S.) research and development for agricultural biodefense (Gerstein, 2017)

Nov 2017

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CAW-124

Agricultural biodefense is a crowded space with responsibilities shared across federal, state and local government officials to private industry that largely owns and operates the sector. Since the establishment of DHS in 2003, USDA and DHS have had a shared role in agricultural biodefense, particularly in the area of R&D. While much progress has been made in developing systems to oversee, track, and monitor FAD internationally and in the United States, the threats continue to grow because of socioeconomic, environmental and ecological factors. With more global travel and trade and encroachment into formerly uninhibited areas, the opportunities for the spread of disease continues to increase as does the potential for a FAD to penetrate the United States. I appreciate the opportunity to discuss Federal Research and Development for Agricultural Biodefense and look forward to your questions.

#123 - Preparedness and response to agroterrorism [Preparación y respuesta frente al agroterrorismo]

Oct 2017

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CAW-123

Since the beginning of the biological warfare cattle and crops have been considered as a strategic objective. With the evolution of the threat to terrorist employment, agroterrorism emerged as a concept derived from bioterrorism, with vulnerable states declaring themselves in front of it. Agroterrorism poses fewer challenges in order to reach the operational capacity of dissemination, and its use may remain unnoticed until the effects are devastating. Similarly, agroterrorism poses lower ethical dilemmas than bioterrorism as the consequences are basically economic, considering that the single threat of employment will have direct effects on society as a whole. Of all the biological agents that affect animals and plants, it may be the Foot and Mouth virus that can be considered the agro-terrorist agent par excellence because of its characteristics and effects.

Since the beginning of the biological warfare cattle and crops have been considered as a strategic objective. With the evolution of the threat to terrorist employment, agroterrorism emerged as a concept derived from bioterrorism, with vulnerable states declaring themselves in front of it. Agroterrorism poses fewer challenges in order to reach the operational capacity of dissemination, and its use may remain unnoticed until the effects are devastating. Similarly, agroterrorism poses lower ethical dilemmas than bioterrorism as the consequences are basically economic, considering that the single threat of employment will have direct effects on society as a whole. Of all the biological agents that affect animals and plants, it may be the Foot and Mouth virus that can be considered the agro-terrorist agent par excellence because of its characteristics and effects.

#122 - Emergence of bio- and agroterrorism in Kenya

Oct 2017

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CAW-122

The growing use of biological toxins, biotechnology and bio-engineering may have, by commensurate measure, contributed to bio-terrorism under what is called agro/bio-terrorism. Agroproducts finally end up on the tables as food or on the shelves as medicine, and thus any form of their contamination by agro-terrorism will be a huge blow to food, pharmaceutical and medical sectors. This study explores emergence of agro/bio-terrorism in Kenya. Growing threats of terrorism lead the Government to legislate the Anti-terrorism Act of 2012. The act is expected to guard against the occurrence of agro-terrorism that can disrupt the food supply system of Kenyan population through "malicious use of plant or animal pathogens that can cause devastating diseases in the agricultural sector. In the past years, Kenya has suffered a number of epidemic plant and animal disease attacks that mimic agro-terrorism. These include Coffee Berry Disease of 1980s, Rift Valley Fever, Necrotic Lethal Maize Mosaic Virus among others. The methods known for execution of agro-terrorism include dissemination of pathogens in the fields by business competitors, movement of plant and animal material during strives and through food and seed imports. The current advances in genetic engineering of various microorganisms have produced very dangerous microorganisms that are classified among the group of weapons of mass destruction. The Government of Kenya has put in place strong regulatory bodies such as Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service, Kenya Medical Research Institute and Directorate of Veterinary services that can advise against dangers of agro-terrorism. However, these agencies will still need to be empowered to increase their responsiveness to any form of danger from agro-terrorism.

#121 - U.S. President Trump likely to sign popular agroterrorism bill H.R.1238 called "Securing our Agriculture and Food Act"

Jun 2017

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CAW-121

President Donald J. Trump is shortly expected to sign H.R. 1238, also called the “Securing our Agriculture and Food Act,” to coordinate efforts to defend U.S. food, agriculture and veterinary systems against terrorism. Congress sent the bill to the White House for the President’s consideration on June 27. The bill amends the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to direct the Assistant Secretary for Health Affairs for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to carry out a program to coordinate DHS efforts related to defending the food, agriculture and veterinary systems of the United States against terrorism and other high-consequence events that pose a high risk to homeland security.

#120 - Proud to present the book "Practical Tools for Plant and Food Biosecurity", based on EU-funded project PLANTFOODSEC: one of the best way to understand agroterrorism

Apr 2017

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CAW-120

This book is based on EU-funded project PLANTFOODSEC, covering intentional and unintentional threats to plant biosecurity and to food safety areas. Biosecurity is a strategic and integrated approach for analysing and managing relevant risks to human, animal and plant life and health, and associated risks to the environment. Interest in biosecurity has risen considerably over the last decade in parallel with the increasing trade in food and plant and animal products; higher levels of international travel; new outbreaks of transboundary diseases. Although most diseases outbreaks have natural causes or are the result of inadvertent introductions of pathogens through human activities, the risk of a deliberate introduction of a high consequence plant pathogen cannot be excluded. Vigilance is required to identify, prevent and manage new and emerging issues that could impact on production capacity, plant biosecurity or food safety and food chain resilience.

Reference: Practical tools for plant and food biosecurity, Gullino M-L, Stack J, Fletcher J and Mumford J (Eds.), Springer, 2017. http://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783319468969

#119 - Legislation introduced in U.S. house and senate Addressing agroterrorism threats to nation’s food supply (U.S. Senators P Roberts & C McCaskill)

Mar 2017

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CAW-119

U.S. Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS.), Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) today introduced bipartisan legislation to address the threat of agro-terrorism and ensure the safety of food put on the tables of American families. Reps. David Young (R-IA), Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ), and Dan Donovan (R-NY) introduced the legislation in the House.

“I have introduced this legislation in the Senate because it reiterates the important and necessary role of the DHS in the agro-terrorism space,” said Senator Roberts, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. “As DHS continues to build the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility (NBAF) in Manhattan, Kan., now is the exact time to shore up authorities regarding coordination and mitigation should the worst occur and the nation is hit by a biological attack on our food and agriculture. As former Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I understand the unique threat our farmers and ranchers face. As the backbone of the U.S. economy, the spread of any deadly pathogen among our livestock and plant population would cause irreparable damage. I look forward to continuing to work with DHS and USDA, which play equally important roles, in protecting our homeland’s food supply.”

#118 - России грозит «стеблевая ржавчина»: старая болезнь губит пшеничные поля... могут использоваться в качестве биологического оружия ?

Feb 2017

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CAW-118

"Все грибковые заболевания злаковых представляют опасность и для российских сортов пшеницы, - говорит Александр Терентьев. - Наши сельхозпредприятия успешно борются с их различными видами, включая стеблевую ржавчину, при помощи химических средств защиты растений. Большую тревогу в данной ситуации вызывает отсутствие у наших фермеров своих, российских фунгицидов и гербицидов. Хорошо, что пока они не включены в санкционные списки, и мы имеем возможность покупать их у западных производителей. А что будет, если нам вдруг откажут? Страшно подумать! Россия, которая сейчас является одним из мировых лидеров по экспорту зерна, может сама остаться без хлеба. Вопрос с противогрибковыми препаратами, как мы не раз подчеркивали, относится к сфере государственной безопасности, но в соответствующих министерствах и ведомствах до сих пор не существует программы по возрождению собственного полного цикла производства химикатов для обработки растений (...).

Во времена холодной войны стеблевая ржавчина, способная уничтожить за раз большую часть урожая, вполне реально рассматривалась в качестве биологического оружия. Впрочем, отловить диверсанта в данном случае было бы очень непросто, - грибок легко распространяется на большие расстояния по ветру или за счет случайной передачи через одежду человека и растительный материал. Ржавчина может прилететь к нам на воздушном транспорте или приехать на колесах автомобилей. Поэтому ставить охранников на полях против возможных диверсантов, распространяющих этот грибок, бесполезно. Тут миссия охраны должна быть возложена на ученых-химиков, которые вовремя создают правильные химические средства защиты растений, на фермеров и специалистов по сельскому хозяйству, которые своевременно обрабатывают ими свои поля и хранилища. В целом, перспективным способом борьбы с грибковыми заболеваниями является выведение новых сортов растений, но, к сожалению, это не быстрый процесс."

#117 - Grippe aviaire dans le Sud-Ouest de la France et soupçons d'acte de malveillance : le parquet de Paris ouvre une enquête pour "tromperie aggravée"

Feb 2017

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CAW-117

Le parquet de Paris a ouvert une enquête préliminaire pour « tromperie aggravée » pour tenter de déterminer les responsabilités dans la propagation à la fin de 2016 de l’épidémie de grippe aviaire dans le Sud-Ouest. Cette enquête préliminaire fait suite à un rapport du ministère de l’agriculture transmis au parquet d’Albi, qui s’était ensuite dessaisi au profit du pôle de santé publique de Paris. L’enquête doit permettre de démontrer si, à la fin de l’année 2016, des lots de volatiles ont pu être envoyés à des éleveurs du Gers, de Lot-et-Garonne et des Hautes-Pyrénées tout en sachant qu’ils pouvaient être contaminés par le virus H5N8.

#116 - Vulnerability, risk and agroterrorism: an examination of international strategy and its relevance for the Republic of Korea (Green et al., 2017)

Feb 2017

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CAW-116

This article explores the under-researched subject of agroterrorism, and how this is being addressed in the Republic of Korea (South Korea). It first outlines the differences between bioterrorism, food terrorism and agroterrorism and why it is becoming increasingly important to focus on risks to farming and the food chain. The article then explores a range of international models of organisational structures and processes designed to counter agroterrorism in the USA, Australia and the UK, based on an analysis of all available open-source materials at the time of writing. This provides a critical picture of the understanding of risk, security and preparedness in those three countries against which the South Korean model can be compared. We found that, compared to the mature arrangements in place in the USA and Australia, both the UK and the Republic of Korea have relatively immature strategies to protect farmers, food production and rural communities, focussing only on maintaining alternative safe food sources for consumers. These relatively weak policies essentially ignore the potentially significant social and economic impact of agroterrorism. We conclude by proposing further research, including fieldwork with local communities in the agricultural sector, including first responders, within South Korea. Overall, these findings may help Korean policy makers to consider their current approach within an international perspective and encourage them to consider both national resilience and local interests.

#115 - An agroterrorism thriller, by Hank Parker: "New tick-borne virus outbreak is traced to an extremist group..."

Jan 2017

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CAW-115

"When a gruesome new tick-borne virus breaks out near a major U.S. city and the outbreak is traced to an extremist group in Southeast Asia, the race to stop a global bio-terrorism conspiracy is on. Government epidemiologist Mariah Rossi must leave the safety of her lab to help fellow scientist and covert CIA agent Curt Kennedy track the disease back to its source..."

Hank Parker holds a doctorate in biological oceanography and is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University's School of Medicine, where he teaches a course on biological threats to food and agriculture. He formerly served as a senior executive and acting director of Homeland Security for the Agricultural Research Service of USDA and has published and lectured on bio- and agro-terrorism. He lives in Vermont.

#114 - How a drone IR-equipped for agricultural use (e.g. high-throughput crop phenotyping) can lead to a diplomatic incident [between Russia, US and Israel].

Nov 2016

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CAW-114

Israel's Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel thought it would be a nice going-away present for visiting Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev: an unmanned helicopter used for agricultural research. Now it emerges that Israel may run into trouble with the United States for handing over the aircraft, if it is proved that it has been developed with American technology. Moreover, a diplomatic tiff may be brewing as well with Moscow, since the helicopter was given to the Russians without some of its technological features (...).

It seems that the unmanned aircraft wasn’t actually Ariel’s to give – it belongs to Volcani, not the Agriculture Ministry – and its value exceeds by a factor of more than 60 the sum that government officials are allowed to spend on official presents. When Russian officials came to collect the helicopter, they were left waiting impatiently until the flustered Volcani staff received permission from an unnamed official to release it (...).

Apparently the staff refused to hand over the remote-control equipment and a thermal camera, costing an estimated 100,000 shekels ($26,000), which the institute had installed on the aircraft. The Russians have already asked Volcani for these parts and if they do not receive them, the newly inked agricultural deal with Israel may be at risk. At the same time, there could be trouble if the aircraft is found to be equipped with American technology that has not been approved for export to Russia by Israel's Defense Ministry. Equipment that is considered to be "dual use" – that is, to have both civilian and military applications – must be approved for exports in advance by the ministry (...).

Such approval is intended to prevent advanced technology developed by America and other countries from reaching unfriendly nations, and/or from being re-exported in some fashion in another product without formal permission. In the past such violations have led to the dismissal of senior Israeli officials, including a Defense Ministry director general. “This is a completely ridiculous story,” said an Israeli official, who asked not to be named. After news of the affair leaked, the Agriculture Ministry agreed to buy the institute a new drone – that is, at the Israeli taxpayers’ expense.

#113 - "Maman V'la les Ecoterroristes !"

Nov 2016

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CAW-113

"Un expert en renseignement sème la terreur chez les éleveurs de cochons" : la perception du Canard Enchaîné (2 novembre 2016).

#112 - Émergence de l’écoterrorisme en France ?

Nov 2016

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CAW-112

Les groupes animalistes sont considérés par Éric Denécé comme des écoterroristes : Lors de l’assemblée générale de l’Ameb, il est revenu sur l’évolution de ces mouvements contestataires.

« Écoterrorisme, animalisme, zadisme, altermondialisme… Depuis une vingtaine d’années, des mouvements contestant la société de consommation et le libéralisme sont apparus. Ils agissent au nom de « l’éthique » et remettent en cause, parfois violemment, l’évolution des sociétés développées », lance Éric Denécé, directeur du centre français de recherche sur le renseignement lors de l’assemblée générale de l’Ameb (Association pour le maintien de l’élevage en Bretagne), le 29 septembre à Plérin. Ces nouvelles idéologies contestataires montent en puissance. « Ces entités ont toutes pris naissance outre-Manche ou outre-Atlantique, ou en raison de leurs actions criminelles (sabotages, attentats, meurtres), elles figurent sur la liste noire des organisations terroristes au même titre que Daesh ou Al-Quaïda. Elles ont conduit le FBI et Scotland Yard à créer des unités spécialisées afin de lutter contre elles. »

#111 - Major Italian daily "La Stampa" rehashes Xylella noise as scoop

Oct 2016

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CAW-111

The Italian press, which, instead of making a sustained effort to get to the bottom of the question, has dedicated only scattershot, distracted attention to the epidemic, trumpeting sensational accusations rather than providing the sustained attention that separates substance from static. A disheartening but representative example of this approach to the Xylella phenomenon appeared on October 9 in La Stampa, an historic Italian national daily based in the northern city of Turin, a city renowned as a cradle of the Enlightenment. The article by Paolo Crecchi, is entitled "The War of the Olive Trees: Xylella, Manna for the Olive Lobbies". See here: http://www.lastampa.it/2016/10/09/italia/cronache/la-guerra-degli-ulivi-xylella-una-manna-per-le-lobby-dellolio-kwuyB1itKLTjFGgDwTxLPN/pagina.html

#110 - The threat of agroterrorism and zoonotic diseases in the US (GA Flory, NCT CBRNe USA 2016 Conference)

Oct 2016

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CAW-110

The threat of agroterrorism and naturally occurring disease outbreaks in the United States continues to expand as new diseases emerge and existing diseases become endemic in many parts of the world. This paper and the associated presentation at NCT CBRNe US 2016 will discusses the risk of an agroterrorism attack, steps to safeguard the food supply, strategies for controlling disease outbreaks and the significance of the human/animal interface.

#109 - Geopolitics and cropbiosecurity (6). How a fungus can ignite a trade war: Russia is banning fruit and vegetable imports from Egypt after its erratic « zero ergot » policies

Sep 2016

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CAW-109

Russia may ban Egyptian citrus amid wheat dispute (by Polina Devitt and Eric Knecht).

Russia threatened to ban Egyptian citrus imports on Tuesday, a move that could escalate a trade dispute over exports of Russian wheat to the world's largest importer of the grain. Moscow said this week it hopes to hold talks with Egypt, its top buyer, over Cairo's failure to approve Russian wheat shipments since tightening its regulations on ergot, a common grains fungus, in late August. Several cargoes suspected of containing trace levels of the fungus have since been held at Russian ports, awaiting a decision from Cairo over whether to allow them to pass under the old rule, traders said. Zero tolerance on ergot could halt Russian wheat exports to Egypt at a time when the country has its largest wheat crop in post-Soviet history. Egypt's state grain buyer GASC purchased 540,000 tonnes of the grain from Russia since July before tightening its import restrictions on ergot, banning the fungus entirely and saying the new rule would apply retroactively, affecting hundreds of thousands of tonnes yet to be shipped. The sales were originally agreed to under a rule allowing 0.05 percent ergot, a common international standard. Russian wheat export prices fell last week, partly due to delayed supplies to Egypt, and are expected to remain under pressure until the situation is resolved, traders said. Egypt bought 6 million tonnes of Russian wheat in the 2015-16 marketing year, which ended on June 30, a quarter of Moscow's total wheat exports for the period.

#108 - Farming, food and fallibility: Tackling the risk of agroterrorism (UK)

May 2016

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CAW-108

While nobody's suggesting that agroterrorism is about to replace cyber threats or the 'active shotter' scenario as arguably the biggest security risk facing the UK today, neither should the possibility of deliberate and targeted attacks on our food chain be dismissed. Stephen Green describes why that's the case.

#107 - Indian River County (Florida, USA) officials learn about agricultural terror threat

May 2016

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CAW-107

Most talk about terror targets during the years has revolved around large gatherings of people or heavily used modes of transportation. But as the United States uncovered more about al-Qaida's plans after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, explicit plans were found that involved attacks on food and water supplies, federal officials said. That's why the Department of Homeland Security created a group called the Rural Domestic Preparedness Consortium, which provides free instruction to rural law enforcement agencies on a plethora of topics. One of the courses is agroterrorism, which is taught by Tracey Stevens, a member of the University of California-Davis' Western Institute for Food Safety and Security. "People aren't aware of it, but the U.S. is one of the largest food exporters in the world," Stevens said. "We talk about terrorism and think about people first, but forget about food and agriculture."

#106 - Focus on "Risk analysis of plant pathogen use as anti-crop weapons" (3rd EBRF meeting, Biosecurity Office/NVWA, NL, 15th April 2016)

Apr 2016

CAW-106

An analysis specific for Europe of the risk of plant pathogens being used as anti-crop bioweapons, taking into account both the biological and human dimensions of the threat, was given by Dr. Frédéric Suffert (researcher at INRA, F; participant to the EU PlantFoodSec project), invited speaker at the 3rd European Biosecurity Regulators Forum meeting (organized the NVWA, Wageningen, NL). An historical review of anti-crop bioweapons was exposed as the starting point of the characterization and contextualizes the threat in Europe. Four types of threat provided a structure for the analysis: (1) from military state programs to allegations of attacks; (2) from 'rogue state' hidden programs to claimed terror attacks; (3) biocrime, sabotage, private allegations and conspiracy theories on social media; (4) from the overzealous application of phytosanitary measures to the deliberate introduction of a regulated pest to justify trade protectionism. A database consisting of important target crops and of potentially dangerous pests was also presented to quantify the risk of agroterrorism in Europe.

#105 - Don alerts to growing threat of agroterrorism to Nigerian security [buzz or argued threat?]

Apr 2016

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CAW-105

A professor of botany at the University of Lagos, Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, in a recent study titled “Agro-terrorism and Biological Crimes: Threats To National Security and Sustainable Development” warned that there is potential use of agro-terrorism in Nigeria, which is malicious use of plant or animal pathogens to cause disease in the agriculture sector (...). He said although there are relatively few cases of agro-terrorism recently, but with current upsurge in terrorism, it is imperative to study these few incidents to better understand the modus operandi and motivations that different actors may have for using biological agents against the agricultural sector, and also to develop and effective countermeasures and strategies (...). If such attacks were not foiled, what would have being the fate of Nigerians on agricultural produces and its confidence on the economy? However, it can be seen that we are at risk of terrorist attacks on our food chains; it will be justifiable to spend resources to deal with this risk. “ Ogundipe said combating agro-terrorism entails the usual appeals for alertness by the citizens and the officials, control of borders and resident aliens better coordination among law enforcement and intelligent gathering agencies, and an end to senseless policies that invite terrorism” he said.

#104 - Geopolitics and cropbiosecurity (5). China's tightening of quarantine specifications: 'no coincidence' according to grain industry leader

Apr 2016

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CAW-104

A key grain industry representative says China's tightening of quarantine specifications could have little to do with food security and plenty to do with its struggle to sell a large stockpile of aging grain. It has been 12 months since the Australian Government formally agreed to a quarantine protocol for wheat and barley going into China, designed to reduce the spread of pests and diseases. At the time the protocol was lauded by Australian authorities as a means of securing the lucrative market. But industry body Grains Industry Market Access Forum said the goal posts could be moved at any time and China's requirements had become increasingly difficult to meet (...).

Tony Russell, Grains Industry Market Access Forum executive manager "We are trying to set up new arrangements to make sure that we meet China's requirements going forward." According to Mr Russell, is that Australia's wins through the Free Trade Agreement with China - including eventual removal of a 3 per cent tariff on barley - are largely irrelevant. "It's very close to the comments I continue to make to Government; that it's all very well to remove tariffs under these free trade agreements, but the reality is tariffs aren't the barrier," he said. "It's quarantine barriers and other non-tariff barriers that countries use to restrict trade." Mr Russell conceded Australia could improve quarantine standards, particularly in relation to snails, but rejected China's level of scrutiny. "You do need to back it up with good science," he said. "Quarantine can get used as a tool to manage these things in a way that we think is slightly inappropriate."

#103 - Périls sur l'alimentation des Égyptiens : l’imbroglio de l’ergot du blé [problème d’ergot ou bataille d’egos ?]

Apr 2016

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CAW-103

Problème d’ergot ou bataille d’egos ? Depuis la fin de l’année 2015, une querelle interministérielle sur l’interprétation d’un obscur règlement sanitaire à propos d’un champignon microscopique menace les importations du plus important acheteur de blé du monde, l’Égypte, et ses 90 millions d’habitants.

Décembre 2015 : deux cargaisons de blé français vendues par le grand négociant américain Bunge, soit 63 000 tonnes, sont refusées par l’Autorité de quarantaine (Agriculture Quarantine Authority, AQA), un bureau du ministère de l’agriculture égyptien. Motif, la présence de l’ergot1. Ce petit champignon qui se développe sur les grains de céréales peut provoquer des catastrophes et affole — à juste titre — l’opinion publique, et pas seulement en Égypte. L’ergotisme entraîne chez ses victimes des vomissements, de violents maux de tête, voire des convulsions dites « démoniaques » et divers troubles du comportement, pouvant aller jusqu’à la psychose. Steven Kaplan, dans Le Pain maudit. Retour sur la France des années oubliées, 1945-1958 (Fayard, 2008) raconte par exemple qu’en 1951, à Pont-Saint-Esprit, un village des bords du Rhône, une intoxication à l’ergot a frappé trois cents personnes, provoqué sept décès et obligé à interner d’office en asile psychiatrique cinquante malades ! Mais depuis plus d’un demi-siècle l’ergotisme, qui avait été virulent jusqu’au XVIIIe siècle, a disparu et les rares cas connus aujourd’hui sont d’origine médicamenteuse. Il faut d’ailleurs consommer des quantités considérables de farine contaminée pour ressentir les symptômes de l’ergotisme.

#102 - Egypte: Saad Moussa subit son intransigeance sur l’ergot

Mar 2016

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CAW-102

L’Egypte vient de remplacer le numéro un de son autorité de gestion de la mise en quarantaine de produits agricoles (AQA). Reuters indique que Saad Moussa vient de laisser sa place à Ibrahim Ahmed Imbabi précédemment à la tête de l’Institut de recherche en pathologies végétales (PPRI) rapporte Ecofin dans sa livraison d’hier.
Ce mouvement est la conséquence d’une controverse qui a secoué le secteur agricole du pays, il y a quelques semaines. En effet, M. Moussa avait alors mis en place une politique de tolérance zéro à l’ergot dans les importations de blé alors que le ministère de l’agriculture tolère généralement des niveaux résiduels de ce champignon commun aux céréales. Résultat, le pays a perdu de son attractivité auprès des négociants qui ne soumissionnent plus aux appels d’offre du gouvernement égyptien car, disent-ils, assurer un niveau zéro d’ergot dans les chargements est impossible.

#101 - Rarely reported fungal spores and structures: an overlooked source of probative trace evidence in criminal investigations (Hawksworth et al., 2016)

Mar 2016

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CAW-101

The value of pollen and plant spores as trace evidence has long been established, but it is only in the last eight years that fungal spores have been analysed routinely from the same palynological samples. They have greatly enhanced the specificity of links between people, objects, and places. Most fungal species occupy restricted ecological niches and their distributions can be limited both spatially and geographically. Spores may be dispersed over very short distances from the fungal sporophore1, and their presence in any palynological assemblage may indicate a restricted area of ground, or the presence of particular plants (even specific dead plant material). Fungal spores can represent primary, secondary, or even tertiary proxy evidence of a location, and can indicate the presence of a plant even though the plant is not obvious at a crime scene. In some cases, spores from fungi which have rarely been reported, and are considered to be rare, have been of particular value in providing intelligence or evidence of contact. Ten examples are given from case work in which rarely reported or unusual fungi have proved to be important in criminal investigations.

#100 - Biodefense, bioterrorism, agroterrorism. Homeland Security

Mar 2016

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CAW-100

The Departments of Defense and Homeland Security are developing a system which lets epidemiologists scan the planet for anomalies in human and animal disease prevalence, warn of coming pandemics, and protect soldiers and others worldwide.

#099 - Closing the barn door: Interagency approaches to reduce agroterrorism threats (Grieco, 2015)

Feb 2016

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CAW-099

What has been started within the U.S., both government-initiated and non-government initiated, to combat agroterrorism is unevenly distributed at best or dangerously chaotic at worst. That which becomes overly complex unfortunately becomes avoided and disregarded—the exact opposite of what the interagency should be doing with respect to agroterrorism. An underlying idea of “out of sight, out of mind” possibly contributes to this effort, with many leadership decisions vested in organizations far removed from agricultural communities. The likely result is that agroterrorism defense will not receive the attention it appropriately deserves until after a critical asset has been struck. Until the current approach of interagency coordination for addressing agricultural threats is righted, the U.S. is poised on a very dangerous path, as the existing flaws appear ripe for exploitation. Only through substantial reworking and retooling can the system be remedied to provide adequate defenses before it is too late.

#098 - Top U.S. intelligence official calls gene editing a WMD [weapon of mass destruction] threat

Feb 2016

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CAW-098

That’s according to James Clapper, U.S. director of national intelligence, who on Tuesday, in the annual worldwide threat assessment report of the U.S. intelligence community, added gene editing to a list of threats posed by “weapons of mass destruction and proliferation. Gene editing refers to several novel ways to alter the DNA inside living cells. The most popular method, CRISPR, has been revolutionizing scientific research, leading to novel animals and crops, and is likely to power a new generation of gene treatments for serious diseases. Easy to use. Hard to control. The intelligence community now sees CRISPR as a threat to national safety.

#097 - CDC investigation of Chipotle further supports corporate sabotage (bioterrorism) as likely source of E. coli contamination [allegations !]

Feb 2016

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CAW-097

"CDC investigation of Chipotle further supports corporate sabotage (bioterrorism) as likely source of E. coli contamination

#096 - National security can begin in the chicken house and the processing plant [the ISIS threat for US]

Feb 2016

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CAW-096

The news is not good out of the Middle East. The Islamic State (IS), otherwise known as “ISIS” or “ISIL,” has not been defeated by a U.S.-led coalition of nations. Their particular strain of apocalyptic Salafi Islamism, which evolved out of al Qaeda, continues to spread as new followers throughout the world are recruited. This problem may seem distant from our nation or the food production and processing systems, but the days of “Fortress America” are long gone in this age of multinational globalization and instantaneous communications.

Agroterrorism first became a major concern after the 2001 anthrax attacks but has gradually faded from the public mind as other events moved center stage. This is unfortunate, given the times in which we live. I spent years investigating how al Qaeda dabbled in agroterrorism, and fortunately, their capability to deliver attacks has degraded. ISIS is, however, in many ways a very different adversary—smarter, more skillful and, yes, actually meaner than al Qaeda ever was. Attacking a food corporation hurts Americans directly by causing loss of life, but also potentially causes them to lose confidence in the safety and security of our food system. That would be a huge propaganda win, which ISIS regularly seeks.

#095 - Diffusion of Xylella in Italian olive trees: Defense lawyers for Xylella scientists identify errors in court technical expert findings

Feb 2016

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CAW-095

Lawyers for the five National Research Center (CNR Bari) scientists under criminal investigation by the Lecce Prosecutor's Office held a press conference on Feb 1st 2015 to present their claim that there is in fact no conflict between the scientific conclusions of their client and those of the expert consultants used by Lecce prosecutors.
An important point of contention that led to the announcement of criminal charges against the 5 scientists concerned the number of strains of the Xylella bacteria subspecies present in the infected zones of Puglia. According to the 5 scientists, the subspecies Xylella fastidiosa pauca, with a strain identified as CoDiRO, is the common factor identified in all infected trees in Puglia. The technical experts for the Lecce magistrates, on the other hand, stated that the data reveals as many as nine different strains of the subspecies, a fact that led the technical experts, in their report to magistrates, to speculate that Xylella may have been present in Puglian olive trees much longer than supposed. A long duration of Xylella in Puglia would imply that the disease syndrome should be considered endemic to the region, rather than a recent invader (...).
If, as the lawyers state, both accused scientists and the technical experts for the Lecce magistrates come to the same conclusion based on the same data, it becomes much harder for the magistrates to sustain their charges that the CNR scientists were motivated by any criminal intent.

#094 - Diffusion of Xylella in Italian olive trees: Italian newspaper leaks details of Lecce prosecutor's report

Jan 2016

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CAW-094

A national newspaper in Italy has leaked details of the scientific analysis behind the Lecce Prosecutor's decision to suspend the European Union's quarantine plan to halt the spread of the Xylella bacteria.
Il fatto quotidiano has released information about the conclusions expressed by technical experts retained by the Lecce Prosecutor to evaluate research on the subspecies ofXylella which has been identified in olive trees in the Salento region.
The court experts, Giuseppe Surico, a plant pathologist, and Francesco Ranaldi, a biochemist, both of the University of Florence, have drawn conclusions different from those of the scientists in Bari who the Lecce prosecutors have made the object of criminal investigation.
The Bari scientists thus far have concluded that only one subspecies, Xylella fastidiosa, called pauca, is present in Italian olive trees. Surico and Ranaldi instead hypothesize the presence of other Xylellapopulations in Puglian olive trees. According to the court experts, in addition to the CoDiRO strain of the subspecies Xylella fastidiosa pauca, there may be other strains.
The newspaper states that the genetic characteristic of the CoDiRO strain is a sequence of seven genes identical to the Xylella subspecies found in Costa Rica. According to the Bari researchers, this is the sequence found in all isolates of Xyella studied up to now in the Salento. But Surico and Ranaldi mentionXylella populations that present mutations within the seven-gene sequence. They reference a publication of the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Bari (IAMB), in 2014, which mentions the discovery of traces of different populations of Xylella. Surico and Ranaldi point out that despite this important data, the conclusions reached by the IAMB researchers at the end of the same article "inexplicably" make no further reference to these possible other strains. The court experts assert that the Bari researchers had found mutations even within the seven-gene sequence. These mutations, however, disappear from Genbank, the international database where the Bari researchers had deposited the genetic sequences they had obtained.
On the basis of the presence of these mutations, which appear to have been either ignored or suppressed by the Bari scientists, Surico and Ranaldi speculate that various forms of Xylella may have been in circulation in the Salento for so long as to be considered endemic to the region. If the bacteria is endemic rather than invasive, then there would be no reason for the EU quarantine plan.

#093 - Diffusion of Xylella in Italian olive trees: How many strains in the Salento?

Jan 2016

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CAW-093

How many strains of the subspecies pauca of Xylella fastidiosa are in circulation in Puglia? The question is critical, both for the survival of olive trees and for the liberty of Italian scientists who have led research and now find themselves subject of criminal investigation. The question pits scientific researchers in Bari against attorneys in the Lecce Prosecutor's Office, who have their own team of scientific experts (...).

In contrast to this, the Lecce Prosecutor's Office refers to hypotheses proposed by the two members of their Technical Committee, Professor Giuseppe Surico and Dr. Francesco Ranaldi, of the University of Florence. The Prosecutor's decree cites a report by Surico and Ranaldi that surmises that the population of Xylella fastidiosa pauca found in the Salento is not homogeneous. A non-homogeneous population of Xylella, with as many as 9 diverse strains of Xf pauca in circulation, could mean that the bacteria did not arrive in Puglia only, and relatively recently, from a single strain of Xf pauca in Costa Rica. On the contrary, it may have been present for a long time, for so many years that it may have developed various genetic modifications (...).

A mystery remains in the Prosecutor's remarks, however, because the fragment of text by Surico and Ranaldi cited in the Prosecutor's own decree, does not express certainty that there are multiple strains of Xf pauca in the Salento. On the contrary, the Florence scientists take pains to express the conjectural nature of their remarks (...). There is a striking difference between conclusions which the Prosecutor described as confirmed, and the observations of his Technical Committee, which stresses that their hypotheses are highly conjectural.

#092 - Biosicurezza: contrasto alla diffusione dei patogeni - PlantFoosSec meeting (3)

Jan 2016

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"Agricoltura Oggi, portale Abruzzese, dedicato al mondo dell'agricoltura, del turismo verde e dell'ambiente

#091 - Expertos debaten la respuesta a ataques de tipo biológico en la agricultura - PlantFoosSec meeting (2)

Jan 2016

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"Bruselas, 19 ene (EFE).- Un grupo de expertos internacionales debatió hoy en Bruselas la respuesta a eventuales amenazas de tipo biológico, tanto involuntarias como intencionadas, a la agricultura, la...

#090 - Guide to biological security issues, from University of Bradford

Jan 2016

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Guide to biological security issues (2 pdf files available online):

(1) Preventing biological threats: What you can do

(2) Biological security education handbook: The power of team-based learning

#089 - Expertos estudian cómo responder al bioterrorismo agrícola - PlantFoosSec meeting (1)

Jan 2016

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CAW-089

Un grupo de expertos internacionales ha debatido en Bruselas la respuesta a eventuales amenazas de bioterrorismo en la agricultura.

#088 - Addressing threat of agroterrorism focus of INTERPOL meeting in April 2015

Jan 2016

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CAW-088

Specialists from law enforcement and animal health agencies were meeting at INTERPOL (Lyon, France, 29 and 30 April 2015) to analyse the threat of agroterrorism and exchange ideas on the prevention, preparedness and response to any attack.

“The economic loss and devastation which would follow the deliberate release of animal pathogens such as foot and mouth disease, demonstrates the need for more targeted and coordinated response strategies to be developed,” said Jeffrey Muller, head of INTERPOL’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives (CBRNE) unit which is coordinating the meeting.

The investigation of an incident involving toxins and livestock would also require significant collaboration between law enforcement, animal and veterinary communities.

Among the agencies attending the two-day (29 and 30 April) Law Enforcement and Veterinary International Conference are the World Organization for Animal Health, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the UK’s Metropolitan Police and the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

#087 - The 10th PlantFoodSec meeting and final workshop held in Brussels (B), January 18th-19th, 2016

Jan 2016

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CAW-087

The 10th and Final Project meeting will be held at the Representation of the Piedmont Region in Brussels on January 18th, 2016. The meeting will be followed on January 19th by the final project workshop aiming to present the "PlantFoodSec toolbox", i.e. the main project results relevant for the end-users. The practicle demonstration consisted in a simulation exercice was based on the imaginary scenario of a Ralstonia solanacearum outbreak.

"Many thanks to all the colleagues, partners and participants for their involvment in this very stimulating project ! After 'CropBioterror' the project 'PlantFoodSec' was a great, fruitfull scientific and human experience !"

Frédéric

#086 - "Biosecurity threat calls for serious response": Pr. A Ibrahim (UCSI University, Malaysia) imagine the consequences of deliberate release of Mycrocyclus ulei (SALB) against rubber in the Asean region

Jan 2016

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CAW-086

Public health issues were the focus of a recent workshop on biosecurity ("Preparedness against chemical-biological threats: Assessment of scientific, prevention and response capabilities", Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 9-11 December 2015) jointly hosted by the Academy of Science and STRIDE, the S&T research arm of the Defence Ministry. The awareness workshop brought together participants from Asean countries as well as experts from institutes in the United States, Germany, France, Britain and the Netherlands. The main sponsor of the workshop was from the US. 

The case study approach was used to communicate the many issues related to biosecurity. Through group deliberations on the cases prepared, participants were able to grasp the many mechanisms where biosecurity could pose threats to the world. A major concern relates to the dual use research. This is where research on microbes for beneficial use can also be tapped for deployment for injurious outcomes. The publication of such research findings can fall into the wrong hands. 

According to Pr. Ahmad Ibrahim (UCSI University, Malaysia), "bioterrorism is now seen as a real threat to world peace. Parti­cipants at the workshop were told about past incidences of bioterrorism aimed at disrupting agriculture. One case concerned the deliberate release of a cattle killing virus where the entire population of livestock was wiped out. Imagine if the spores from the dreaded South American Leaf Blight (SALB) are deliberately released in the Asean region, the entire natural rubber industry will be obliterated."

#085 - Lutte contre l'agroterrorisme : l'expérience américaine débattue à Alger en avril 2015

Jan 2016

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CAW-085

La défense alimentaire est un axe de coopération que les Etats-Unis entendent développer avec l'Algérie en vue de transmettre leur expérience dans la lutte contre l'agroterrorisme. Le sujet a été débattu le 12 avril 2015 en présence de l'ambassadrice américaine en Algérie lors d'un séminaire organisé à Alger autour des méthodes de lutte multisectorielles à mettre en place pour contrer d'éventuels actes malveillants qui pourraient mettre en danger la sécurité sanitaire nationale et internationale. Les experts dépêchés à Alger ont détaillé plusieurs aspects de l'expérience américaine, ainsi que les mécanismes de prévention, les lois et règlements destinés aux industries, mais aussi à tous les acteurs de la chaîne de production agricole et d'importations de produits agroalimentaires ou d'intrants, en vue d'éviter les contaminations. Côté algérien, l'expérience dans ce domaine reste limitée à la mise en place de normes sanitaires préventives telles que la HACCP, selon le Dr Boughanem, directeur des services vétérinaires au ministère de l'Agriculture et du Développement rural.

#084 - Allegations of corporate sabotage against Chipotle (2). Rumor of sabotage by GMO activists... but lack of proof

Jan 2016

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CAW-083

In late 2015, Chipotle outlets in multiple states were affected by an outbreak of foodborne illness, and as a result, the chain closed stores in several states while the issue was investigated. 

On 24 December 2015, the web site Real Farmacy published an article attributed to "Health Ranger" Mike Adams, that posited pro-GMO bioterrorists had targeted Chipotle. The article's sole attempt at presenting any evidence backing this extraordinary claim (aside from the presence of a "rare strain" of E. coli) was based on an entirely unrelated scenario involving surgeon, colon cleanse advocate, and television personality Dr. Oz, who once alleged that the chat show host had been defamed by pro-GMO propagandists. 

An axiom commonly dubbed "Hitchens' Razor" maintains "that which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence." Even if that concept didn't apply here, entertaining Adams' claims remains difficult. Aside from a lack of any actual proof, the article did not offer the manner by which such "corporate sabotage" might have occurred, did not identify and specific parties by whom the misdeeds might have been carried out, did not explain how only foodstuffs destined for Chipotle outlets might have been contaminated, did not posit why the putative saboteurs would have left an obvious trail by using a "rare genetic strain of e.coli not normally seen in foods" (rather than a more common form of e.coli), did not detail how "low-cost laboratory supplies" purchased via Amazon would assist in such an endeavor (nor why corporate saboteurs wouldn't be better funded), or explicate what the primary objective of causing such outbreaks might be. 

While it might seem plausible to those who fear anti-GMO activists are at risk from shadowy forces, no linear motive for such activity was presented in the article — it simply suggested that nebulous biotech terrorists wished to create havoc due to a grudge over an anti-GMO stance.

#083 - Allegations of corporate sabotage against Chipotle (1). "Biotech industry food terrorists would be planting E. coli in retaliation for restaurant's anti-GMO menu" (!) [Mike Adam’s conspiracy theory]

Jan 2016

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CAW-084

Here is some of the “best” of the conspiracy theory developped by Mike Adam, the “Health Ranger”: 

"After observing recent events involving Chipotle and E. coli, here’s my analysis of the situation: Chipotle’s E. coli (sic) outbreaks are not random chance. They are the result of the biotech industry unleashing bioterrorism (sic) attacks against the only fast food company that has publicly denounced GMOs." 

"How do we know? The CDC has already admitted that some of these E. coli (sic) outbreaks involve a “rare genetic strain” of E. coli (sic) not normally seen in foods. Furthermore, we also know the track record of the biotech industry engaging in the most criminal, dirty, sleazebag tactics imaginable against any person or company that speaks out against GMOs." 

"There is absolutely no question that the biotech industry will resort to ANY activity necessary to destroy food companies that oppose GMOs. And yes, this includes acts of bioterrorism (sic) against Chipotle — something that’s ridiculously easy for biotech industry operatives to carry out with simple, low-cost laboratory supplies sold online at places like Amazon.com."

#082 - Des scientifiques accusés [officiellement mis en examen] d'avoir introduit la bactérie Xylella fastidiosa en Europe

Jan 2016

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CAW-082

9 chercheurs de l’Institut italien de protection durable des plantes de Bari ont été mis en examen. Les mesures de prophylaxie de la maladie - notamment l'abattage des oliviers - sont suspendues.

#081 - Italian Xylella scientists under investigation after olive-tree deaths [so incredible charges against plant pathologists!]

Jan 2016

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CAW-081

Prosecutors accuse researchers of spreading disease and order a halt to the culling of infected trees.

#080 - Geopolitics and cropbiosecurity (4). Russia will strength control over food supplies from Turkey [will phytosanitary measures be "technically justified"?]

Nov 2015

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CAW-080

Russia will strengthen control over food supplies from Turkey and will perform additional border and production checks, the press service of the Ministry of Agriculture said on Thursday. "The Russian Government authorized Rosselkhoznadzor [federal agricultural supervision agency — TASS] to strengthen control over agricultural products and foods supplies from Turkey and organize additional checks on the border and at production sites in Turkey," the press service said. Measures are introduced in view of repeated violations of Russian standards by Turkish producers, it added. "About 15% of Turkish agricultural products on average do not meet Russian standards," Minister of Agriculture Alexander Tkachev said. According to the Russian Ministry of Agriculture, Russia imported foods and agricultural products from Turkey in the amount of $1.7 bln in 2014. At the same time, Russian export of foods and agricultural products to Turkey rose by a third in 2014 and totaled $2.4 bln.

#079 - ISIS executes Pr. Abdullah Sultan al-Abidi, Mosul University physics professor, for not designing biological weapon

Nov 2015

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CAW-079

Daesh Takfiris [ISIS] have executed an Iraqi physics professor of the University of Mosul for refusing to cooperate with the terror group in designing a biological weapon.

The terrorists shot dead Abdullah Sultan al-Abidi, the chairman of the university's Physics Department, at a square in the middle of the militant-held city of Mosul in the northern province of Nineveh, Arabic-language al-Sumeria news website reported on Wednesday, quoting an unnamed local source.

According to the report, Daesh wanted to use the weapon against Iraqi government forces.

Mosul, the second-largest city of the Arab country, fell into the hands of Daesh in early June last year. Since then, the Takfiris have committed gruesome atrocities against its inhabitants.

The northern and western parts of Iraq have been plagued by violence ever since Daesh began its activities through the Iraqi territory in June 2014. Army soldiers and Popular Mobilization units are seeking to take back militant-held regions in joint operations.

#078 - FBI and UN Bioweapons Office are afraid of the possibilities for weaponization of the 'gene drive' technology, which "could destroy agriculture system", e.g. by suppressing pollinators [really ?]

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CAW-078

A powerful new genetic technology could eliminate scourges such as malaria and rid entire countries of destructive invasive species. But officials from the FBI to the Pentagon to the United Nations bioweapons office, STAT has learned, are concerned about the potential of “gene drives” to alter evolution in ways scientists can’t imagine, and even offer a devastating new tool to bioterrorists (...). Because the technology to create a gene drive is widely accessible and inexpensive, biologist Kevin Esvelt (...) warned the scientific panel at an earlier meeting, “We have never dealt with anything like this before (...).”

Gene drive is a molecular technique that slips a new gene into an organism and guarantees that it will be inherited by offspring and by subsequent generations (...). Result: even if the genetically engineered organism mates with a partner carrying a different version of the gene, all of their descendants will carry the engineered gene and express the associated trait. Once a few organisms are genetically altered, therefore, the new trait is “driven” through a population (...). That could be a godsend. Using gene drives to make locusts unable to swarm, to make invasive species unable to survive in their new home, or to make mosquito immune systems destroy the malaria parasite so they don’t transmit it to humans, are just some of the benefits scientists think the technique could bring. But accidents are possible (...).

Next week’s meeting of the panel will focus not on accidents but on the potential for intentional misuse of gene drives. Dr. Amesh Adalja (...) told he was sent the “ISIS is making superkiller mosquitoes” story by the panel to spur his thinking. He will speak about gene drives and “entomological warfare (...).” The National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity, part of NIH, provides advice to the federal government on “dual-use research of concern,” or legitimate studies that could be hijacked for bioweapons. The main focus of the biosecurity board has been on research to make pathogens such as the influenza virus more lethal or contagious (...).

The possibilities for “weaponizing” gene drives range from suppressing pollinators, which could destroy an entire country’s agriculture system, to giving innocuous insects the ability to carry diseases (...).

#077 - Geopolitics and crop biosecurity (3). ISIS militants seize wheat from state silos

Nov 2016

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CAW-077

ISIS militants seized a further 700 tonnes from storage sites in the western province of Anbar in the past three weeks and took it across the border into Islamic State-held areas in Syria for milling.

#076 - Threats of agricultural bioterrorism to an agro dependent economy (Khalil & Shinwari, 2014) [the Pakistan's case]

Nov 2015

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CAW-076

The economy of Pakistan is primarily dependent on its agricultural resources. Due to the lack of research regarding threat analysis of germ warfare in Pakistan, it is imperative for the agriculturists to understand the potential hazards associated with an attack on the cash crops that contributes heavily to the overall Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth. Alarming terrorist activities such as 9/11 and many innovative terrorist strategies like Improved Explosive Devices (IED) in different countries, especially in Pakistan, has increased the potential of bioterrorism. Hence there is urgent need of security risk analysis and preparedness. State of the art research labs are not important for the effective production of biological weapons but certainly innovative strategies are required to effectively implement and counter a bioterrorist plan. Bioweapon infection to some staple crops such as wheat and maize can induce a significant loss that can take years to diffuse. This paper is concerned with the vulnerability of certain important crops in Pakistan that can be exposed as soft targets to certain bioterrorists and discusses the preemptive measures that should be undertaken immediately to prevent any sort of nefarious act of bioterrorism.

Khalil AT, Shinwari ZK (2014) Threats of Agricultural Bioterrorism to an Agro Dependent Economy; What Should be Done? J Bioterror Biodef 5: 127. doi:10.4127/2157-2526.1000127

#075 - Final workshop of the EU project, aiming to present the "PLANTFOODSEC toolbox" (Brussels, Belgium, January 18th-19th, 2016)

Nov 2015

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CAW-075

The 10th and Final Project meeting will be held at the representation of the Piedmont Region in Brussels on January 18th, 2016. The meeting will be followed on January 19th by the final project workshop aiming to present the "PLANTFOODSEC toolbox", i.e. the main project results relevant for the end-users.  The programme will be available on the project website by the end of November 2015.

#074 - Activists blame scientists, GMOs for dying iconic Italian olive trees [following the conspiracy theory...]

Nov 2015

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CAW-074

Anti-GMO activists pointed to what they believe is a hasty blame on Xylella as the sole reason for the outbreak, and claim that scientists had in 2010 brought samples of Xylella to a meeting in Bari, Italy, and they suggested that it may have got loose. Accusations have ranged from a plot by Monsanto to introduce strains of olive trees that resist the bacteria, to a deliberate plot to eradicate olive trees, to even a test to determine Europe’s response to a bioterrorist attack.

A second conspiracy scenario has attracted Italian police. This scheme involves the deliberate release of Xylella (via insect vectors and other methods), which killed the olive trees, and forced farmers to sell their land to land developers at low prices. The result? Cheaper development of hotels and other tourist attractions in the area. The fact that groves of olive trees on rural hillsides were part of the region’s attractiveness was not mentioned in this conspiracy theory.

Scientists with the CNR Institute for Sustainable Plant Protection (IPSP) were questioned by Italian police earlier last summer. They, the Italian Ministry of Agriculture, and other scientists investigating the outbreak also have had their computers and documents confiscated, in addition to more questioning by the police. It has turned out, according to the scientists interviewed, that police were following up on the “claims” initiated by anti-GMO and local activists.

#073 - CANR alumni honors : M. Denigan-Macauley, assistant director at the Government Accountability Office (Whashington D.C., US), for work helped to shape legislation on agroterrorism

Nov 2015

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CAW-073

Six graduates of the University of Delaware College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) were presented with honors – the George M. Worrilow Award as well as four Distinguished Alumni Awards and a Distinguished Young Alumni Award – during a ceremony held Friday, Nov. 6, as part of Homecoming festivities. The awards are given based on a clear record of outstanding career accomplishments, service and leadership to the profession, and community service, including service to UD. 

Mary Denigan-Macauley is an assistant director at the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in Washington, D.C., where she leads the agency’s work related to food safety and agriculture production and defense. In this role, Denigan-Macauley has led reviews of numerous federal programs to improve the safety of the nation’s food supply and to prevent, respond to, and recover from natural disasters and terrorist attacks on livestock and poultry. Her work helped to shape legislation and public policy in several key areas, most notably on agroterrorism. Through the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, Denigan-Macualey also worked to improve government auditing of agricultural programs worldwide and enhance professional capacities. Prior to joining GAO, she taught program evaluation and comparative public policy for Troy University in Japan.

#072 - According to insurance giant Lloyd’s, shocks to fragile food markets may trigger agroterrorism, riots

Jul 2015

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Three serious weather-related disasters could undermine the entire global food system, leading to higher prices and potentially triggering riots and agroterrorism attacks, insurance giant Lloyd’s warned Tuesday.

It said the world’s “overstretched” and fragile food markets were becoming increasingly vulnerable to shocks, such as plant pandemics or catastrophic weather linked to climate change.

#071 - L'altra faccia della Xylella: "Viene utilizzata per aggredire il territorio tagliando alberi e lasciando spazio al cemento"

Jun 2015

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CAW-071

La Xylella, in fondo, non è poi questa gran peste. Questo devono aver pensato i proprietari di alcuni appezzamenti di terreno in Salento attaccati dal virus degli ulivi che, senza perdere troppo tempo, hanno presentato già richiesta per tagliare e “diversificare”: chi costruendo una casa, chi addirittura una discoteca. Le segnalazioni le stanno raccogliendo le associazioni ambientaliste che «parlano di un timore che purtroppo si verifica: la Xylella viene utilizzata per aggredire il territorio tagliando alberi e lasciando spazio al cemento.

#070 - Diffusion of Xylella in Italian olive trees: Utopians vs. profiteers? [when "motivation for a crime" substantiate allegations]

Jun 2015

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CAW-070

While some envision a “post-Xylella” Salento as a giant biodiversity theme park, others scheme to profit from the calamity. A common fear expressed among anti-eradication activists is that widespread, concentrated destruction of olive orchards, as foreseen by the EU/Puglia Region containment plan, could lead to what Italians call the “cementification” of southern Puglia. Some environmentalists and journalists suspect that CoDiRO might have been deliberately introduced in order to allow unscrupulous builders and speculators to replace agriculture with tourist complexes and holiday homes. This idea may strike distant readers as outlandishly paranoid, except that anyone with experience of southern Italy has seen cementification at work, largely unregulated, all along the southern Italian coast, from the Campania region on the Tyrrhenian Sea, around the toe of Calabria and across the Ionian beaches, up to the Gargano peninsula of northern Puglia on the Adriatic. Appearing to grant some credence to the paranoid hypothesis, district attorny Elisa Valeria Mignone has opened an investigation into possible organized-crime interests behind the introduction of the Xylella fastidiosa bacteria into Salento. As the inquest continues, zoning requests have been received that request to construct houses and a discotheque on or near olive orchards in the Salento which have been identified as Xylella-infected, and thus subject to eradication.

#069 - Italian scientists vilified in wake of olive-tree deaths

Jun 2015

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CAW-069

They did not expect to be hailed as heroes, say the scientists tasked with researching a deadly pathogen that is ravaging olive groves in Puglia, southern Italy. But they certainly did not predict that they would end up feeling like villains. 

In the past year, plant scientists at various institutes in Bari, the capital of the Puglia region, have seen their work and their motivations criticized by local campaigners. Most recently, they have been subject to a police investigation about whether they are responsible for the introduction of the bacterium, Xylella fastidiosa, into Puglia, or for allowing its subsequent spread. 

Police have called in several researchers involved in Xylella research for questioning and confiscated computers and documents from scientific institutes.

#068 - Farm to warfare: UC Davis institute stands watch against agroterrorism

Feb 2015

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CAW-068

In the hands of a clever terrorist, the handkerchief could be contaminated with the foot-and-mouth disease virus, then dropped in a pen of livestock. Cattle, which are curious by nature, would soon start sniffing the handkerchief, potentially creating a ground zero for one of the most feared diseases in farming. 

The resulting outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease wouldn’t cause mass casualties like other terrorist attacks, but the effects could be devastating for California’s agribusiness. Mending this break in the food-supply chain would cost billions. Consumer confidence would suffer and the market price of beef would plummet, leaving ranchers in an economic meltdown. 

Dr. Bennie Osburn and his colleagues work to prevent such devastation and develop strategies that would minimize the damage. He’s the director of outreach and training at UC Davis’ Western Institute for Food Safety and Security, which is funded in part by the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

#067 - A framework for agroterrorism intentions detection using overt data sources (Rohn & Erez, 2013)

Feb 2015

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CAW-067

Agro-terrorism is a hostile attack, towards an agricultural  environment, including infrastructures and processes, in order to significantly damage national and international political interests. This article provides a framework for reducing agro-terrorism-related risks by either means of foresight (prevention) or early detection of exotic/foreign pathogenic agents and their dispersion patterns. It focuses on intention detection using overt data sources on the World Wide Web as they relate to agro-terrorism threats. The paper defines agro-terrorism, examines data characteristics, identifies weaknesses among the intelligence community that must be addressed, then integrates the classical intelligence cycle for early detection that may lead to prevention of such acts.

#066 - Viruses as a biological weapon against farm animals (Kielan & Niemialtowski, 2014)

Feb 2015

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CAW-066

Bioterrorist attacks could be catastrophic not only for the people  (bioterrorism), but also for animals and plants (agroterrorism) and for economy of each country (national security). In this paper we have focused on two viruses extremely important from the veterinary point of view: (i) foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV; virus RNA) and (ii) African swine fever virus (ASFV; virus DNA), that are excellent examples of very dangerous infectious agents that can be used as a biological weapon for agroterrorist attacks.

#065 - Hartnell College (California) offers courses for an - unthinkable? - agroterrorism threat

Nov 2014

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CAW-065

Today the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is battling troops in northern Iraq. Tomorrow, ISIS may be in a lettuce field near you...

I half joke; the chances of a terrorist attack of any kind in Monterey County is slim – too sparsely populated and it lacks a sufficient number of hard targets that the bad guys like. But what we do have is a food supply critical to much of America. And that could be a target for both domestic and foreign whack jobs.

Hartnell College is taking that potential threat seriously and hosting a series of six “agroterrorism” workshops beginning next week.

• Sept. 5, AWR 151: Understanding the Dangers of Agroterrorism, 8 a.m. to noon.

• Sept. 12, AWR 152: Principles of Preparednmess for Agroterrorism and Food System Disasters, noon to 5 p.m.

• Sept. 19, AWR 153: Principles of Detection and Diagnosis – Strategies and Technologies, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

• Sept. 26, AWR 154: Principles of National Incident Management System, Team Building and Risk Communication, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

• Oct. 10, AWR 155: Principles of Frontline Response to Agroterrorism and Food System Disasters, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

•  Oct. 17, AWR 156: Principles of Planning and Implementing Recovery (6 hours), 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

#064 - Gordon Research Conferences - Chemical & biological terrorism defense

Nov 2014

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CAW-064

March 8-13, 2015. Four Points Sheraton / Holiday Inn Express
Ventura, CA.

Chair: Jacqueline Fletcher; vice Chair: Steven R. Blanke

The theme of the 2015 Gordon Research Conference on Chemical and Biological Terrorism Defense is "Research Synergies for Chemical and Biological Defense". This conference will highlight the highly multi-disciplinary, cutting-edge research in the field of chemical and biological defense; talks will focus on chemical agents and bioterrorism-related pathogens that impact humans, plants, and/or animals.

The 2015 GRC will provide investigators active in bio- or chemical-defense the unique opportunity to identify scientific common ground, or "synergies," with the goal of spurring new collaborative research areas. Although historically considered as disparate disciplines, bio- and chemical defense research clearly shares common scientific ground (e.g. host-response to biological or chemical neuro-active agents, real time detection technologies, etc.). The 2015 GRC will promote these synergies by designing scientific sessions specifically to engage members of both the bio- and chemical-defense research communities simultaneously, focusing largely on cutting edge work that demonstrates how basic research stimulates translational breakthroughs important for the health of humans, animals and plants.

#063 - Fungus versus Coca: What's new in Colombia after 15 years? [M Jelsma, 2000]

Aug 2014

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CAW-063

In 2000, Martin Jelsma wrote : "The Colombian government and the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) are close to signing a contract marking the start of biological warfare against coca in Southern Colombia. The plan will initiate a series of open field tests with the Fusarium oxysporum fungus aimed at evaluating its effectiveness against coca bush and assessing the environmental risks involved."

What's new in Colombia after 15 years?

#062 - ISIS seeks to use bubonic plague as a weapon of war

Aug 2014

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CAW-062

Islamic State research into biological and chemical weapons uncovered on seized laptop to target shopping centres and air-conditioning system.

ISIL terrorists in Syria and Iraq have carried out research into the production of biological weapons, compiling a manual of how to make a device and sharing a religious edict that sanctions the use of weapons of mass  destruction against civilians.

The computer seized from a Tunisian chemistry student contained a 19-page   manual to learn how to turn the bubonic plague into a weapon of war. The text boasts that biological and chemical weapons are a highly effective means of targeting enemy populations, according to the Arab television channel al-Aan, which obtained the computer from a Syria rebel group.

“The advantages of biological weapons is the low cost and high rate of   casualties,” an extract of the closely-typed document shown on the channel  said. “There are many methods to spread the biological or chemical  agents in a way to impact the biggest number of people. Air, main water supplies, food. The most dangerous is through the air.” 

The manual explores a variety of means to spread “chemical or biological   agent” over a wide area – including rockets and missiles, suicide missions in cars, and contamination of air-conditioning systems.

#061 - Master & Graduate Certificate in Plant Biosecurity in Murdoch University (Australia)

Jul 2014

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CAW-061

Expand your knowledge in the rapidly growing field of plant biosecurity. You'll learn how to manage threats through risk analysis, diagnostics and surveillance, rapid emergency response and management of pest organisms.

#060 - Curso de food defense, bioterrorismo y seguridad de la planta (MCG de México)

Jul 2014

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CAW-060

Entender la importancia de un Programa de Food Defense  para la prevención del bioterrorismo y la contaminación intencional en los productos alimenticios mediante la aplicación  de medidas preventivas, la evaluación de vulnerabilidades, la implementación de estrategias específicas de prevención, la documentación y el monitoreo.

#059 - Capabilities analysis of bioterrorism: Roadblocks facing non-state actors’ use of bioweapons

Jul 2014

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CAW-059

The use of bioweapons is not a new concept, having been employed since at least ancient Greece as a mechanism for attacking enemy populations. In the present day, cases like the Amerithrax attacks of 2001 and the Rajneeshees cult’s use of salmonella in Oregon restaurants point to successful use of bioweapons. However the actual cases of use by terrorist groups are few and far between. Terrorism of any form has both pros and cons, but given the historical use of bioterrorism and its success, why has it not steadily increased in application like suicide bombings?

#058 - A new biosecurity act to better protect Queensland (Australia)

Jul 2014

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CAW-058

Queensland's environment and agricultural sector will be better protected under the new Biosecurity Act. The Act will change the way that the State, industry, local governments and the community manage biosecurity threats. The Act delivers a single cohesive legislative framework for biosecurity in Queensland.

It will provide the flexibility to respond in a timely and effective way to emergency and ongoing animal and plant pests and diseases. It will also manage risks of biological, chemical and physical contaminants associated with carriers such as livestock, plants, machinery, animal feed and fertilisers. It provides comprehensive regulatory powers and tools that can be tailored to address the unique challenges presented by individual biosecurity threats.

#057 - Call for 'microbial forensics' from NAS

Jul 2014

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CAW-057

Biological outbreaks can include natural occurences, accidental or negligent releases from laboratories, biocrimes aimed at individuals or small groups, or acts of bioterrorism and biowarfare intended to affect large populations.  In all scenarios, the primary goal of microbial forensics and the public health system is to protect the health and safety of the public, which requires that the microorganism be identified quickly and its source located to stop further cases of exposure.  However, the methods and processes involved in microbial forensics investigations must also meet legal standards for evidence for use in law enforcement or for policy decisions when outbreaks cross national boundaries.

Events that require application of the full range of microbial forensics techniques, such as an act of bioterrorism, are likely to be rare.  Natural and accidental infectious disease outbreaks occur more frequently, and most will first be recognized through the public health infrastructure.  By creating, testing, and validating methods that are compatible with both rare and common occurences, detection and response will not be delayed by lack of availability of and familiarity with tools and systems when a rare event does happen.

#056 - The Rural Domestic Preparedness Consortium (RDPC) provides training and resources to rural first US responders

Jul 2014

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CAW-056

The Rural Domestic Preparedness Consortium is a DHS funded program providing training and resources to rural first responders. RDPC courses are offered both in-person and online, and are provided at no cost. More information about the RDPC can be found in the overview.

#055 - Geopolitics and crop biosecurity (2). Russia may impose temporary ban on farming products' imports from Ukraine over a threat of possible western corn rootworm invasion

Jul 2014

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CAW-055

Russia’s veterinary and phytosanitary control authority, or Rosselkhoznadzor, says it might impose a temporary ban on imports of farming products from Ukraine over a threat of possible western corn rootworm invasion.

The western corn rootworm is a dangerous pest that may cause severe damage to corn. It originated from North America, where pest control measures and harvest losses are estimated at least one billion US dollars a year, Rosselkhoznadzor said.

By now, the western corn rootworm has been reported in 22 European countries.

According to Ukraine’s state veterinary and phytosanitary service, the western corn rootworm was reportedly spread in seven regions, namely the Trans-Carpathian, Lvov, Ivano-Frankovsk, Ternopol, Khmelnitsky, Chernovtsy and Vinnytsia regions on an overall area of more than 72,000 hectares by January 1, 2014. Some sources say the pest has invaded the Volyn region too.

Experts predict that the pest may spread to Ukraine’s central regions in the eastward direction, which will create a risk of its further spread into the Russian territory, Rosselkhoznadzor said in a release on Monday. There is a risk that the pest may be brought to Russia with plant and other farming products by air or ground transport, which is fraught with serious economic damage. Western corn rootworm larvae damage corn roots, while adult beetles feed on all above-ground parts of the plant.

Rosselkhoznadzor has twice asked Ukraine’s state veterinary and phytosanitary service to hold consultations on problem issues of plant quarantine measures.

#054 - Geopolitics and crop biosecurity (1). The presence of Grapholita molesta in Moldova is now a problem for Russia (and Belarus)

Jul 2014

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CAW-054

La Russie ne veut plus de fruits moldaves sur son territoire. C’est ce qu’a fait savoir, vendredi, l’agence vétérinaire russe, prétextant la présence d’un «dangereux insecte ravageur : la tordeuse orientale du pêcher» sur ces marchandises. Sont notamment concernés les pommes, abricots, pêches et prunes. Une liste qui s’ajoute au vin, à la viande, aux légumes et aux céréales moldaves déjà dans le viseur du Kremlin, qui prévoit d’en augmenter les droits de douanes. La Russie limite également l’importation de certains produits carnés de Moldavie, évoquant des «infractions grossières aux exigences vétérinaires et sanitaires». Une série de mesures protectionnistes qui intervient un mois après la signature d’un accord de libre-échange entre la Moldavie et l’Union européenne. De là à y voir une riposte de Moscou qui n’aurait pas digéré ce rapprochement moldavo-européen… 

see also: http://www.freshfruitportal.com/2014/07/15/russia-gets-tough-on-produce-imports-from-moldova-israel/?country=france

and: http://www.freshfruitportal.com/2014/07/03/belarus-blocks-ukrainian-potato-imports/?country=france

#053 - FBI Director sets out critical infrastructure challenges, including "agroterrorism"

Jul 2014

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In a speech at the WMD Directorate/Interpol International Law Enforcement Critical Infrastructure Symposium, FBI Director James B. Comey has given his views on the critical infrastructure challenges facing the US.

Key points from the speech include: “Critical infrastructure is all encompassing. It is everything to our country and our world—our dams, our bridges, our highways, our networks. These are the things that keep our water flowing, keep our houses lit, keep our cars fueled, our goods manufactured, and connect us all over the world. The threats we face and that we’re here to discuss to those interconnected systems—bioterrorism, agroterrorism, and sabotage, are as diverse as the infrastructure itself.”

#052 - 70,000 snails poisoned in France: a common example of rural crime

Jul 2014

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Un héliciculteur de Cormoz, dans le nord de l'Ain, a découvert son cheptel décimé mercredi soir : des pastilles bleues de produit anti-limace ont été dispersées sur son parc d'élevage, la quasi-totalité des bêtes y ont succombé. Une enquête de gendarmerie a été ouverte.

#051 - Europe's 2011 killer pathogen could have been spread on purpose or accidentally

May 2014

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A new analysis applied to Northern Europe’s deadly 2011 E. coli O101:H4 outbreak calls the official assumption that the pathogen, spread by “its natural origin,” is “questionable.” Further, the Serbian-German researchers say that neither accidental nor deliberate spreading of the pathogen can be ruled out as the cause.

#050 - Food terrorism poses eminent danger to US agroterrorism experts

Apr 2014

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Food terrorism poses an eminent danger to the United States, according to antiterrorism specialists. While the need for higher quantities of food is only increasing, the standards for food safety have been at a standstill or worse—nonexistent. The Voice of Russia got to interview three antiterrorism food experts on the rising threats in American society. Not only did they mention the dairy sector of being in danger, but the US' produce is also in a compromising position.

#049 - Lloyd’s was honoured for its report on insurance implications of food safety and security [including agroterrorism]

Apr 2014

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Lloyd’s was honoured at this year’s City of London’s Sustainable City Awards for its “outstanding report” on business and insurance implications of food safety and security.

Trevor Maynard, Lloyd’s head of exposure management and reinsurance, and his team took home the Farsight Award, which recognises the best individual piece of analysis by investment research institutions on environmental, social or governance issues.

Authored by the Emerging Risks team, Feast or Famine: Business and Insurance Implications of Food Safety and Security (May 2013) explores why food safety and security are important issues for businesses, as well as the insurance industry. It looks at how insurance can play a role in risk mitigation, management, innovation and investment in relation to food safety and food security by providing effective risk management advice and expertise, as well as risk transfer.

One of the judges, said: "The Lloyd's team has produced a valuable introduction to how insurers assess food safety and security issues. The report identifies new areas of concern such as supply shocks and agroterrorism and provides a roadmap of possible responses by the insurance industry. This work should be valuable to all members of the financial services community - from equity analysts to risk managers."

#048 - Could the U.S. food supply be a target for terrorists?

Mar 2014

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Terrorists haven't hit our food supply — yet. But major vulnerabilities exist, from food processing plants to cattle ranching. U.S. regulators want the industry to start taking the risk seriously

It sounds like the plot of a Hollywood blockbuster: Villains bent on chaos set their sights on a food company — an easy target — with plans to lace its products with a chemical or pathogen. The hero finds out in time to save the day. Sound far-fetched? Not according to U.S. regulators who have been pondering such scenarios. Under new proposed rules from the Food and Drug Administration, food processors and manufacturers — both domestic and companies abroad that ship food to the U.S. — would need to take steps to mitigate a potential terrorist attack. Few documented incidents of malicious food contamination exist, though, which raises the question: Is food terrorism fact or fiction?

#047 - Researcher uncovers secret Nazi project to infest mosquitos with malaria and drop them on allied territory

Mar 2014

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Why did the Nazis need to study insects? While the stated goal was to combat disease, new research shows they were also trying to find a “super race” of mosquitoes — to use as a secret weapon. Evidence for the secret World War II biological weapons research program has been uncovered by Tubingen University researcher Dr Klaus Reinhardt. While studying documents from the notorious Waffen SS, Dr Reinhardt discovered several suggesting they had been operating a covert biological weapons testing program. The objective: To find ways to infest the enemy with malaria-carrying mosquitos. The problem: Which breed of mosquito was up to the task.

#046 - Han jobbar mot bio- och agroterrorism [He works towards bio- and agroterrorism]

Mar 2014

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Han har arbetat med mjältbrandsbakterier och leder ett stort EU-projekt mot bio- och agroterrorism. Rickard Knutsson är livsmedelsagronomen som kom att jobba med anti-terror och beredskap.

– Det finns väldigt många viktiga arbetsuppgifter inom det agrara säkerhets- och krisberedskapsområdet framöver, säger han.

Rickard Knutsson works towards bio- and agroterrorism. He has worked with anthrax and leading a major EU project on bio- and agroterrorism. He is food agronomist who came to work on anti-terrorism and preparedness : National Veterinary Institute, responsible since 2010 for the EU project AniBioThreat, involving 170 people from eight EU countries. The project involves improving the EU's capacity to prevent and manage bio- and agro and other criminal acts in the food chain.

Rickard Knutsson : '"A major challenge in this project is to increase the ability to coordinate and cooperate among law enforcement and infectious enforcement agencies and organizations. In addition to ongoing international crisis preparedness work, I work with the national emergency preparedness projects in the area "one-health" and "all hazard", ie events that are of natural and intentional descent."

#045 - EASAC report on EU priorities for tackling emerging plant pests: "The potential issues for plant health associated with bioterrorism and military conflict must continue to be taken into account"

Mar 2014

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In the EASAC (1) report, we can read :

"The potential impact of bioterrorism (and military conflict) on plant health must also continue to be taken into account. The analysis by the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organisation (EPPO, 2007) provides an outline of the issues for Europe with regard to surveillance and intelligence gathering, contingency planning and outbreak management; the current European Commission’s Seventh Framework Programme project PLANTFOODSEC is also clarifying the issues for bioterrorism and food security."

(...) 

"Contributors to the European Commission’s review of the current CPHR have noted that the regulatory framework must be reformed to improve contingency planning, with sufficient flexibility to cope with the increasing challenges to plant health from international commerce and environmental change together with possible new challenges, for example bioterrorism. Introduction of targeted regulatory reform must also be accompanied by allocation of sufficient resources (in particular, for risk assessment and quarantine systems) to ensure effective implementation of the technical objectives (Macleod et al., 2010; FCEC, 2012). In addition, resources need to be allocated to encourage cooperation between plant health inspectorates in different Member States and between plant health and customs services."

 

(1) EASAC - the European Academies Science Advisory Council - is formed by the national science academies of the EU Member States to enable them to collaborate with each other in providing advice to European policy-makers.

#044 - The fifth issue of Project PlantFoodSec Newsletter is on line!

Mar 2014

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In this issue: 

- European/global news review
Research dynamics, knowledge systems and diagnostic networks — A sociological comparative analysis of plant biosecurity systems (page 3)

 - WP4 in focus
(page 4) 

- Project trainings and meetings
Mid-term project workshop in China (page 5) Consortium meeting in Cambridge (page 5)

#043 - EFSA Event (14 January 2014): 7th meeting of the Working Group on risk posed by pathogens in food of non-animal origin [Part 2].

Feb 2014

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Scientific Panel on Biological Hazards

Minutes of the 7th meeting of the Working Group on risk posed by pathogens in food of non-animal origin. Part 2

Web conference, 15/01/2014

#042 - Animal and Anti-Terrorism - Swindon (UK), 27 March 2014

Feb 2014

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This is the second module in the Veterinary Forensics and Law course. Delivered by David Bailey it addresses issues of one health and clinical signs of non-kinetic agents- both biological and chemical that can be used on human and non-human animals. Incorporating a One-health approach, the lecture introduces candidates to clinical signs of various agents that animal can acquire from a deliberate or natural exposure to an agent. The course approaches the issue of animals as targets of a terrorist attack and includes teaching on security, intelligence, risk, policy, agri-terrorism, trade and political consequences of terrorism involving animals, food and people.

David Bailey has been delivering lectures on animals and anti-terrorism at counter Terror Expo in London (2012, 2013) as well as in Australia (2012) and Brazil (2013). 

#041 - Biosafety and Biosecurity Training Course - Fort Collins, CO (USA) - 10 to 17 July 2014

Feb 2014

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Biosafety and Biosecurity Training Course for animal and plant research.

The Annual Biosafety and Biosecurity Training Course is held at the Hilton Hotel, Fort Collins, Colorado. Topics include general Biosafety, Biosafety and Biosecurity in animal research and veterinary clinics; plant research and diagnostics (includes a plant research facility tour); Select Agent regulation updates (Tier 1); laboratory and Select Agent inspection preparations; and building design and operations.

#040 - Understanding the dangers of agroterrorism in Clovis, CA (USA) on 19 February 2014 (RDPC training course)

Jan 2014

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The RDPC (Rural Domestic Preparedness Consortium) is bringing AWR 151 Understanding the Dangers of Agroterrorism to Clovis, CA (USA) beginning on Feb. 19, 2014, 8 a.m. 

Understanding the Dangers of Agroterrorism

Designed to increase awareness among local and regional emergency response teams and industry stakeholders about the potential targets and impacts of agroterrorism. Raises awareness on the need to identify and defend against pathogens, chemical and biological contaminants, and other hazards. Through this curriculum local and regional emergency response teams are provided with an awareness of the potential targets and impacts of agroterrorism and how effective pre-planning within a community can mitigate acts of agroterrorism. This is the first of six courses in the WIFSS Agroterrorism Preparedness Curriculum for Frontline Responders series.

Registration Deadline

All participants must register by Feb. 5, 2014, noon to ensure their spot in the course.

#039 - Are British universities training Iranian nuclear physicists [and plant pathologists]?

Jan 2014

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If British academics are training Iran’s nuclear physicists, should we be told?

We know that the Foreign Office is concerned about the threat of a hostile regime putting students on British university courses that would give them the knowledge to build weapons of mass destruction and the missile systems to deliver them. We also know that in 2007 at least 60 Iranians were admitted to Britain to student postgraduate courses deemed “proliferation sensitive” by the security services, including nuclear physics, microbiology and chemical engineering.

There are horrifying precedents. Rihab Taha, the Iraqi microbiologist known as "Dr Germ", studied for a PhD at the University of East Anglia in the 1980s before developing anthrax and botulinum for Saddam Hussein’s biological weapons programme. Her husband, who ran Saddam’s missile programme, studied for a PhD in engineering in Birmingham. And Mohammad Ghannadi, the vice president of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, which runs the regime’s nuclear sites, studied nuclear physics and radiochemistry as a postgraduate at Salford before returning to Iran to run a nuclear technology research centre.

My insight: Rihab Taha received her Ph.D in plant toxins from the University of East Anglia's School of Biological Sciences in Norwich, England, which she attended from 1980 to 1984. She published two articles on her research, co-authored by her supervisor Professor John Turner, once the head of the School of Biological Sciences. In 1984, "Contribution of tabtoxin to the pathogenicity of Pseudomonas syringae pv. tabac" was published in Physiological Plant Pathology (25, 55-69) and "Effect of tabtoxin on nitrogen metabolism" by J.G. Turner, R.R. Taha & J.M. Debbage was published in Physiologia Plantarum in 1986 (67, 649-653) [read more on : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rihab_Taha].

#038 - Une colline empoisonnée avec des graines aux portes de Montpellier (France)

Jan 2014

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La colline de Baillarguet, située à 10 kilomètres au nord de Montpellier, a été interdite d'accès au public jusqu'à nouvel ordre après la découverte vendredi de quelque 200 pigeons morts empoisonnés et de sangliers agonisants, a expliqué le groupement de gendarmerie de l'Hérault, vendredi 17 janvier.

Des grains de blé, de maïs et des morceaux de pain empoisonnés ont été volontairement dispersés en plusieurs endroits de ce site fréquenté par des promeneurs, des vététistes et des chasseurs, toujours selon les gendarmes. Les quatre communes concernées (Montferrier-sur-Lez, Prades-le-Lez, Clapiers et Jacou) ont pris des arrêtés pour interdire la circulation, précise la préfecture. Les battues de chasse sont également prohibées, précise le site de Midi Libre.

Dans le secteur, des hardes de sangliers provoquent de gros dégâts aux cultures et aux jardins des particuliers. Peut-être une piste pour les enquêteurs, qui ont effectué des prélèvements afin d'identifier le ou les poisons utilisés. Les résultats de l'analyse seront connus lundi.

#037 - U.S. Army tested biological weapons in Okinawa

Jan 2014

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The U.S. Army tested biological weapons in Okinawa in the early 1960s, when the prefecture was still under U.S. rule, according to U.S. documents obtained by Kyodo News.

Rice blast disease causes lesions to form on the plant, threatening the crop. The fungus, which is known to occur in 85 countries, is estimated to destroy enough rice to feed 60 million people a year.

#036 - Les Américains auraient testé des armes biologiques au Japon

Jan 2014

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L'armée américaine aurait testé des armes biologiques « au moins une douzaine de fois » au début des années 1960 dans la préfecture japonaise d'Okinawa, occupée par les Etats-Unis depuis la seconde guerre mondiale jusqu'en 1972. C'est ce que rapporte le Japan Times, qui s'appuie sur des documents des autorités américaines obtenus par l'agence de presse japonaise Kyodo News.

Un champignon dévastateur qui provoque des lésions sur les plants – le Magnaporthe grisea, donnant la maladie de la pyriculariose – aurait ainsi été diffusé sur les rizières pour évaluer son impact sur la production de cette denrée alimentaire de base. « On estime que ce champignon, dont l'existence est connue dans 85 pays, détruit une quantité de riz qui pourrait nourrir 60 millions de personnes par an », note le quotidien anglophone. Selon lui étaient dans le collimateur de l'armée américaine la Chine et l'Asie du Sud-Est.

Le gouvernement américain a déjà dévoilé des programmes d'expérimentation d'armes chimiques et biologiques à Puerto Rico, Hawaï et dans l'Utah, avance aussi le Japan Times. Washington décida de mettre un terme à l'utilisation d'armes biologiques en 1969, avant qu'une convention internationale ne vienne les interdire en 1975.

#035 - Agro-terrorisme : quand la recherche agronomique vient appuyer la sécurité nationale

Jan 2014

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(extrait des Bulletins Electroniques des Ambassades de France)

Apparue dans les années 2000, la notion d'agro-terrorisme (terrorisme qui prend pour cible les productions agricoles ou agroalimentaire) est aujourd'hui reconnue par les autorités internationales. Au vu des conséquences importantes que de telles actions pourraient avoir sur l'agriculture ou les chaînes d'approvisionnement alimentaire américaines, le gouvernement des Etats-Unis alloue de gros moyens à une recherche spécifiquement dédiée.

Le terrorisme est un acte de violence politique. Suite aux attentats du 11 septembre 2001, l'ensemble des techniques et des moyens d'anticipation et de réaction des différents services secrets se sont considérablement développés. En conséquence, plusieurs tentatives d'attentats ont pu être déjouées à temps, évitant très certainement par-là de nombreuses victimes.
Dans la plupart des cas, les services de sécurité ont intercepté des communications, grâce à leur contenu et à l'utilisation de vocabulaire spécifique. Qu'en aurait-il été si les échanges portaient sur des vaches et du blé ? Il faut admettre qu'il est peu probable que la réponse eut été aussi efficace.
Pour autant, la notion d'agro-terrorisme est apparue durant la dernière décade. Les définitions varient, mais il s'agit, globalement, d'une tentative malveillante de perturbation ou de destruction de l'industrie agricole et / ou de la chaîne d'approvisionnement alimentaire d'une population par l'utilisation intentionnelle d'agents pathogènes des plantes ou des animaux, pour provoquer une maladie dévastatrice dans les secteurs de l'agriculture.

#034 - Food (in)security: Are farms the next terrorist target?

Jan 2014

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In early 2002, United States Navy SEAL Team 3 stormed a cluster of caves in eastern Afghanistan. It was a known Al Qaeda storehouse; they expected guns, explosives, maybe even Osama bin Laden.

Instead, the team found documents, hundreds of them, all planning a terrorist attack on the United States food supply.

There were agriculture articles from American science journals, translated into Arabic. There were USDA documents. There was a comprehensive list of the most devastating livestock pathogens — foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), hog cholera, rinderpest. There was a separate rundown of crop diseases like soybean rust and rice blight. And, most alarmingly, there were training documents, detailing how to deploy these pathogens on farms.

In the decade since the raid, this scare story has spread far and wide — in FBI trainings, at Congressional hearings on homeland security, in hawkish punditry. The details vary — sometimes it’s a small Navy SEAL team, other times it’s a full deployment of coalition forces. In some versions, the soldiers raided caves; in others it was an underground bunker or an Al Qaeda training camp. The document list varies, as does the year of the raid. But no matter the details, the takeaway message is the same: Our farms are targets.

#033 - Agroterrorism: a real threat?

Jan 2014

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Here's a scary thought to keep you up at night: agroterrorism. The idea is this: terrorists target the American food supply -- livestock or crops.  Maybe cows get foot and mouth disease. Maybe there's a massive salmonella outbreak.

#032 - Mexico formally joined the Australia Group in August 2013

Nov 2014

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Mexico becomes the 42nd Member of the Australia Group (AG), the international regime dedicated to the implementation of export controls on chemical substances, biological agents, vegetable and animal pathogens, and related technologies.

The AG is an informal group of countries established in 1985 with the purpose of reducing the risk of the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons, through the monitoring and application of control measures to the exports of certain chemical substances, biological agents, as well as the equipment necessary for their production.

In joining the AG, Mexico reaffirms its role as a globally responsible actor and fulfills its obligations under the regime established by UN Security Council Resolution 1540, as well as the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological Weapons Convention; at the same time as it participates in mechanisms and initiatives to promote international security.

#031 - Espionnage agricole

Jan 2014

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Si vous surprenez un étranger en train d’examiner des parcelles d’essais de variétés qu’un semencier a installées chez vous, méfiez-vous ! Ce pourrait être un espion !

En décembre dernier, un Chinois ayant obtenu la résidence permanente aux États-Unis a été accusé de vol de secret commercial. Une enquête du FBI a mis au jour ses plans pour envoyer en Chine de la semence et des traits biotechnologiques appartenant à DuPont Pioneer et Monsanto.

#030 - International Symposium on Biosecurity, Quarantine Pests and Market Access (17-22 August 2014, Brisbane, Australia)

Nov 2014

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As well as domestic horticultural production there is considerable international trade in horticultural products between countries and continents.  So that this commercial activity does not pose a risk to the sustainability of importer and exporter, many countries have established processes designed to reduce biosecurity risk to acceptable levels.  The focus of the symposium will be the examination of the policy and technical aspects of supply chain activities of trade and the continuum that everyone is involved in the production process, including trade in plants as invasive species.

#029 - Ukraine and China by 2014 to sign biosecurity protocol for barley and soybeans supplies

Nov 2014

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Ukraine and China by the end of 2013 will sign a protocol on biosecurity requirements for barley and corn, which will allow the start of the delivery of these crops to China, the press service of the Ministry of Agricultural Policy and Food of Ukraine has said.

#028 - Human pathogens on plants (HPOPs): Designing a multidisciplinary strategy for research (Fletcher, 2013)

Nov 2013

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Recent efforts to address concerns about microbial contamination of food plants and resulting foodborne illness have prompted new collaboration and interactions between the scientific communities of plant pathology and food safety. This article provides perspectives from scientists of both disciplines and presents selected research results and concepts that highlight existing and possible future synergisms for audiences of both disciplines. Plant pathology is a complex discipline that encompasses studies of the dissemination, colonization, and infection of plants by microbes such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and oomycetes. Plant pathologists study plant diseases as well as host plant defense responses and disease management strategies with the goal of minimizing disease occurrences and impacts. Repeated outbreaks of human illness attributed to the contamination of fresh produce, nuts and seeds, and other plant-derived foods by human enteric pathogens such as Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli and Salmonella spp. have led some plant pathologists to broaden the application of their science in the past two decades, to address problems of human pathogens on plants (HPOPs). Food microbiology, which began with the study of microbes that spoil foods and those that are critical to produce food, now also focuses study on how foods become contaminated with pathogens and how this can be controlled or prevented. Thus, at the same time, public health researchers and food microbiologists have become more concerned about plant-microbe interactions before and after harvest. New collaborations are forming between members of the plant pathology and food safety communities, leading to enhanced research capacity and greater understanding of the issues for which research is needed. The two communities use somewhat different vocabularies and conceptual models. For example, traditional plant pathology concepts such as the disease triangle and the disease cycle can help to define cross-over issues that pertain also to HPOP research, and can suggest logical strategies for minimizing the risk of microbial contamination. Continued interactions and communication among these two disciplinary communities is essential and can be achieved by the creation of an interdisciplinary research coordination network. We hope that this article, an introduction to the multidisciplinary HPOP arena, will be useful to researchers in many related fields.

#027 - SiLeBAT german project (BfR): Ensuring the safety of the food and feed supply chain in case of damage resulting from bio or agroterrorism attacks

Nov 2013

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As part of the joint project "Ensuring the safety of the food and feed supply chain in case of damage caused by bio or agro terrorist (BAT) attacks" (German acronym: SiLeBAT) (project reference number 11N11202), new solutions are developed to ensure continued food supply to the population even in case of damage caused by a bio or agro terrorism attack. Preventive measures are based on scenarios involving on the one hand direct contamination of food and on the other hand indirect contamination of food via domestic cattle or feed.

These measures are prepared against the background that it is not possible to exclude in principle a deliberate release of extremely dangerous microorganisms or toxins (bio terror). This means that the goal of this research project is prevention.

The BfR coordinates the SiLeBAT research project.

The BfR processes key issues of the overall project and in addition is responsible for project coordination.

Apart from the BfR, the following institutions are involved in the project:

Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL)Institute for Bacterial Infections and Zoonoses of the Friedrich Löffler Institute (FLI)Institute for Business Administration of the Johann Heinrich von Thünen Institute (vTI)Institute for Epidemiology of the Friedrich-Löffler Institute (FLI)Institute for Microbiology and Biotechnology of the Max Rubner Institute (MRI)Institute for Animal Nutrition of the Free University of BerlinAnalytik Jena AGBALVI GmbH (IT company specialising in food safety)

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research sponsors the project with approximately Euro 7 million (Project Number 13N11202).

The research project "Ensuring the safety of the food and feed supply chain in case of damage caused by bio or agro terrorist (BAT) attacks (SiLeBAT)" runs for four years (October 2010 - end of September 2014).

#026 - Agroterrorism? The causes and consequences of the appearance of witch’s broom disease in cocoa plantations of southern Bahia, Brazil (Caldas & Perz, 2013)

Nov 2013

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During the last few decades, the media, government leaders, scholars and national security analysts have all called attention to the potential threat presented by terrorism. In general, analyses have focused on the use of biological agents to kill or injure people. Consequently, the intentional contamination of crops by biological agents has received less attention in the media and counter-terrorism efforts when compared to possible attacks on civilian populations. However, in many countries, agricultural systems are one of the main economic sectors contributing to political stability, and the present literature lacks examples of terrorist attacks to agricultural systems. This paper is one of the first to discuss a concrete case of the appearance of a plant pathogen in an economically important region, possibly motivated by agro-terrorism. We highlight the differences between agro-terrorism and biocrime, and the causes and the consequences of the intentional introduction of pathogens as a means of causing economic damage. In particular, we argue that agro-terrorism and biocrime are both intentional criminal acts of introducing pathogens into agricultural systems to cause economic damage, but only agro-terrorism does so to advance a political agenda. Also, we argue that agro-terrorism can be difficult to distinguish from biocrime, and even if the intentional introduction of a pathogen is a political act of agro-terrorism, the consequences may or may not follow the desired script contemplated by the perpetrators, as pest outbreaks can entrain unintended economic, political and ecological consequences.

#025 - Agroterrorism: The new threat to food security

Nov 2013

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Food security is increasingly becoming an oxymoron in many parts of the world. From last year’s droughts which decimated US crops to the recent European horsemeat scandal, the ability to produce enough food for the world is once again under the spotlight.

While climate change, commodity speculation and the rise in meat and dairy consumption regularly grab the headlines, our new report highlights agroterrorism as a rising threat to food security – in addition to these better-known risks. ‘Feast or Famine: business and insurance implications of food safety and security’ looks at issues as diverse as globalisation, water security and land availability, and suggests the food sector is increasingly vulnerable to attack. There is already a well-documented history of such attacks. In 1952, Kenya’s Mau Mau used the African milk bush to poison cattle. In 1978, the Arab Revolutionary Council poisoned Israeli orange crops with mercury, leading to a decline in orange exports. In 1997, Israeli settlers used pesticides to destroy 17,000 metric tonnes of Palestinian grapevines. Even more recently, US security officials have warned that al Qaeda have undertaken research into poisoning public buffet bars with lethal toxins such as ricin and cyanide. Because food chains have so many points of vulnerability, potential threats to them can include anything from the sabotage of open field crops and water pipes to deliberate contamination or destruction of food reserves. Given that the geo-political and ideological issues which generate these threats are usually beyond the immediate control of the food sector, managing the risk requires a thorough analysis of each part of the food supply chain. It’s here that the expertise of specialist risk managers and anti-terrorism experts, such as those who advise hotel chains in areas of high political risk, can pay dividends

#024 - Evaluating unmanned aerials systems (UAS) for crop protection (Plant Biosecurity CRC)

Nov 2013

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An effective plant biosecurity system is key to protecting the future of Australian crops and ensuring its position in the export market. An important part of this process is gathering frequent and reliable data throughout multiple stages of the biosecurity continuum, which can then be used by management to guide effective and timely remediation activities. Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) are emerging as a non-invasive solution to a number of environmental monitoring activities, particularly in the mining and agricultural industries. It makes sense then to investigate if UAS could be useful in the plant biosecurity context. A PBCRC project (5055), which includes researchers from the Australian Research Centre for Aerospace Automation (ARCAA) at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), was tasked to do exactly that.

#023 - Deconstructing “eco-terrorism”: Rhetoric, framing and statecraft as seen through the Insight approach (Loadenthal, 2013)

Nov 2013

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CAW-022

Since 1979, the Animal and Earth Liberation Fronts have claimed thousands of attacks worldwide targeting property, yet remained relatively impervious to infiltration, disruption and arrest. Since the disclosure of the State's targeted surveillance and prosecution of these movements – labelled the “Green Scare” by activists – a matrix of juridical, legalistic and political mechanisms has criminalised forms of political dissent. In order to apply an emergent method of conflict analysis to the subject of the violent non-State actor, the Insight approach is utilised to examine how counterterrorism strategy serves as an articulation of the State's epistemological framework. Though examining the State as an entity capable of synthesising experiences and generating a perceived “threat”, one can examine a resulting juridical “defense”. Utilising the Insight approach to conflict mediation as developed by Bernard Lonergan, Robert Fitterer, Cheryl Picard, Jamie Price and others, one can understand the State's threat perception, narrative construction and finally, policies that emanate from such a conflict understanding.

#022 - AIU Ph.D Lawrence Roberge asks: Could invasive species become the next biological weapon? (Roberge, 2013)

Nov 2013

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CAW-021

A dissertation written by Lawrence Roberge for Atlantic International University (AIU), warns that invasive (or non-indigenous) species can be used.

#021 - Analysis of introduced species as a form of biological weapon (Roberge, 2013a; 2013b)

Nov 2013

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Analysis of introduced species as a form of biological weapon

Part 1 - Theory and Approaches

http://www.omicsgroup.org/journals/2167-0331/2167-0331-2-107.pdf

Part 2 - Strategies for discernment of an attack and countermeasures

http://www.omicsgroup.org/journals/2167-0331/2167-0331-2-111.php?aid=16512

The hypothesis of this paper is that introduced species (aka non-indigenous species) could be used as a form of biological weapon (BW). The first step of this paper is a brief review of biological weapon concepts, and a review of the definition of an introduced species, as well as a brief survey of historical examples of introduced species. Previous

evidence of the use of invasive species as a form of biological weapon is also discussed. The methods to predict a successful invasive species candidate is discussed, and examples of various theories and computer software models to analyze introduced species invasions are reviewed. The use of GARP (Genetic Algorithm for Rule-set Prediction) has found promise in predicting the range and effective invasiveness of an organism, prior to the actual invasion. This research discusses the approaches of invasive species by hostile actors (aggressor nation, crime syndicate, bioterrorists, or lone individual), as well as the various BW targets (public health, ecosystems, agricultural commodities,

biofuel feed stocks). The vulnerability of nations to invasive species introduction, as well as the risk factors favoring invasive species BW sould also be examined. Some of these risk factors favoring a BW attack using invasive species include poor communication between local population and government scientists and decision makers; monoculture of agricultural fields; disturbed or damaged ecosystems, and presence of favored niches in the targeted areas. The strategies to introduce BW invasive species are discussed, and range from human smuggling and delivery by vectors to biocruise-the technique of using cruise missile technology (aka unmanned aerial vehicles), to deliver and disperse BW agents (e.g. virus, fungal spores, bacteria, even insects), at precise targeted sites. Two models are presented to describe the process of invasive species BW by hostile actors-one, using a single invasive species and one leading to invasion meltdown of the targeted area. Four examples of potential BW using introduced species are discussed, with supportive evidence for their effectiveness and invasive potential on targets (Nipah virus, Striga plant parasite, Heartwater-Ehrlichia ruminantium, and Wheat Stem Rust-Puccinia graminis f. st. tritici). Finally, the data supports the hypothesis that introduced species could be used as a form of biological weapon.

#020 - "Eco-terrorist" attack on GM Papayas in Hawaii : Should we really named "agroterrorism" this fact?

Nov 2013

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CAW-020

About 100 genetically modified papaya trees were hacked down with machetes on Thursday night on Hawaii's Big Island. The act is believed to be an act of eco-terrorism rather than random vandalism as the Big Island is currently considering the future of biotech on the island. Two bills that would impose restrictions on biotech are currently up for debate, according to Honolulu's Civil Beat. One of the bills would require that the island's GMO papaya fields be cut down entirely, and farmers caught growing GMO papaya would face jail and fines.

The majority of papayas in Hawaii are grown from genetically modified seeds that are resistant to a ring spot virus that wiped out Hawaii's papayas in the 1950s. The genetically modified version is credited with saving Hawaii's $11 million papaya industry.

Thursday's incident -- the damages of which are valued at about three thousand dollars -- was relatively contained. In 2011, about 10 acres of trees were cut down on the same papaya farm, and the year before, some 8,500 papaya trees were similarly cut down. The police never solved those cases.

Acts of eco-terrorism aren't unique to genetically modified papayas. Activists have taken weed-whackers to drought-resistant wheat crops in Australia and genetically modified eggplants in the Philippines.

Regarding the 2011 papaya incident, Delan Perry, vice president of the Hawaii Papaya Industry Association, told the AP, "It's hard to imagine anybody putting that much effort into doing something like that. It means somebody has to have passionate reason."

#019 - Global food security: The threat of agroterrorism and zoonotic diseases in Asia (Flory, 2013)

Nov 2013

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CAW-019

The food and agricultural sector is one of the easiest sectors of any nation’s economy to disrupt and its disruption could have catastrophic consequences both nationally and regionally. Both developing and developed countries in Asia will be impacted by a disease outbreak or agroterrorism attack.

For countries with agriculture as a significant portion of their gross domestic product, disruptions anywhere along the food chain could lead to food insecurity and national instability in addition to the direct and indirect economic impacts. Yet in the context of CBRNe planning, preparations for a major biological emergency, whether naturally occurring or intentional, are often given less attention and allocated fewer resources than chemical or radiological events due to the reduced potential for a significant human death toll. However there are steps -some easily accomplished, others more difficult -that can be taken to mitigate the impact of disease outbreaks and agroterrorism activities.

#018 - New allegation of agroterrorism: Attack of cotton and soybean by Helicoverpa armigera caterpillar in Brazil

Nov 2013

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CAW-018

O ataque da lagarta Helicoverpa Armigera que atinge plantações de algodão e soja em nove municípios do Oeste baiano e outros quatro estado pode ser resultado de bioterrorismo, de acordo com o secretário estadual da Agricultura (Seagri), o engenheiro agrônomo Eduardo Salles. Ele disse, por meio de nota, que a Polícia Federal (PF) e a Agência Brasileira de Inteligência (Abin) investigam a suspeita.

A praga já causou prejuízo de mais de R$ 1 bilhão e compromete 228 mil hectares de algodão apenas na Bahia. Também há registro do problema no Paraná, Goiás, Piauí e Mato Grosso. O secretário diz que há risco do problema atingir outras regiões do Brasil. A praga quarentenária A1 não existia no país.

O secretário se reuniu nesta sexta, 10, com promotores do Ministérios Públicos do Estado (MPE) e do Trabalho (MPT), com o diretor geral e do diretor de Defesa Vegetal da Adab, Paulo Emílio Torres e Armando Sá; produtores e secretários de Agricultura, de Saúde e do Meio Ambiente dos municípios de Barreiras, São Desidério, Luís Eduardo Magalhães, Baianópolis, Formosa do Rio Preto, Riachão das Neves, Correntina, Jaborandi e Cocos. Eles discutiram as regras para aplicação do produto agroquímico Benzoato de Amamectina, que já foi usado em outros países no combate à lagarta Helicoverpa.

A previsão é que o produto chegue ao município de Luís Eduardo Magalhães, onde vai ficar armazenado, nesta quarta, 15. Inicialmente, será utilizado em 10 propriedades em fase de teste. Após análise do efeito, o material será usado todos as lavouras atingidas pela praga.

#017 - International Standards to minimize pest movement under consultation

Nov 2013

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CAW-017

Several ISPMs dealing with horizontal issues on pest risk management are under country consultation in 2013 (ending 1 December 2013):

- Movement of growing media in association with plants for planting in international trade

- Management of pest risks associated with the international movement of wood

- Minimizing pest movement by sea containers

Draft standards are sent for member consultation by the IPPC Secretariat to contracting parties, national plant protection organizations (NPPOs), regional plant protection organizations (RPPOs) and international organizations.

Drafts and well as background documents are available on IPPC website.

#016 - European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization (EPPO)

Nov 2013

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CAW-016

At the last Council   session, on the 17th of September 2013, EPPO member countries elected the new   Director-General of the Organization.

Mr Ward is currently the  United Kingdom Chief Plant Health Officer (Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs) and has a   long experience in the field of international cooperation and plant protection.   Mr Ward will take up his   duties on the 1st of January 2014. Because Mr Ward was the Chairman of EPPO, the EPPO Council elected Mr  Arnitis (Latvia) to continue the EPPO chairmanship.

#015 - Agroterrorism targeting livestock: A review with a focus on early detection systems (Elbers & Knutsson, 2013)

Nov 2013

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CAW-015

Agroterrorism targeting livestock can be described as the intentional introduction of an animal disease agent against livestock with the purpose of causing economic damage, disrupting socioeconomic stability of a country, and creating panic and distress. This type of terrorism can be alluring to terrorists because animal disease agents are easily available. This review addresses the vulnerabilities of the livestock industry to agroterrorism. However, we also show that early detection systems have recently been developed for agroterrorism and deliberate spread of animal pathogens in livestock, including an agroterrorism intelligence cycle, syndromic surveillance programs, and computer-based clinical decision support systems that can be used for early detection of notifiable animal diseases. The development of DIVA-vaccines in the past 10 to 15 years has created, in principle, an excellent response instrument to counter intentional animal disease outbreaks. These developments have made our animal agriculture less vulnerable to agroterrorism. But we cannot relax; there are still many challenges, in particular with respect to integration of first line of defense, law enforcement, and early detection systems for animal diseases.

#014 - Allegation of sabotage (agroterrorism?) with snails along the banks of Ebro river in Spain (Pérez, 2012)

Nov 2013

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CAW-014

En el delta del Ebro, al sur de Tarragona, se repite esta semana una pregunta: “¿Quién podría tener interés en propagar una plaga?”. La cuestión copa las conversaciones de los cosecheros de arroz y de los empresarios del cereal, pero también centra las investigaciones de los Mossos d’Esquadra. El asunto incluso ha activado las alarmas de la Consejería de Agricultura de la Generalitat. En la zona, donde hay 21.000 hectáreas de arrozales, alguien está intentado propagar la plaga que más daña a la agricultura y la biodiversidad del delta: el caracol manzana, una especie invasora de origen sudamericano detectada en los cultivos del territorio por primera vez hace ya tres años, en agosto de 2009, cuando se escapó de una empresa de exportación de animales exóticos.

#013 - New EU regulation on invasive species

Nov 2013

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CAW-013

9 September 2013 The European Commission proposed new legislation to prevent and manage the rapidly growing threat from invasive species.

The proposal centres round a list of invasive alien species of Union concern, which will be drawn up with the Member States using risk assessments and scientific evidence. Selected species will be banned from the EU, meaning it will not be possible to import, buy, use, release or sell them. Special measures will be taken to deal with issues arising for traders, breeders or pet owners in the transitional period.

The proposal is for three types of intervention:

  - Prevention: Member States will organise checks to prevent the intentional introduction of species of concern. However many species come into the EU unintentionally, as a contaminant in goods or trapped in containers. Member States will have to take action to spot such pathways and take corrective measures.

  - Early warning and rapid response: when Member States detect a species of Union concern that is becoming established, they will take immediate action to eradicate it.

  - Management of established invasive alien species of concern: if species of Union concern are already widely spread, Member States will need to put in place measures to minimise the harm they cause.

The proposal encourages a shift towards a harmonized and more preventive approach, increasing efficiency and lowering damage costs and the cost of action over time. 

The proposed Regulation will now be examined by the Council and the Parliament. Member States will be fully involved in compiling the list and can propose candidates for listing. The regime will be coupled with an information support mechanism: the European Alien Species Information Network (http://easin.jrc.ec.europa.eu/) 

See also Questions and answers on the new proposal for a Regulation on preventing and managing invasive alien species http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-13-769_en.htm 

Proposal in all EU langages: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/invasivealien/index_en.htm

#012 - AniBioThreat EU project: Preparedness measures concerning prevention, detection and response to animal bio-threat

Nov 2013

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CAW-012

The focus of the project AniBioThreat is to improve the EU's capacity to counter biological animal bio-threats in terms of awareness, prevention and contingency. The project will contribute to create a safer and more secure world. To succeed, we need to carry on a borderless dialogue.
AniBioThreat builds bridges across boundaries dividing countries, competencies, and disciplines.

The consortium is composed of experienced personnel from eight European countries in the fields of veterinary medicine, security, forensics, animal and public health, food safety and academia. The breadth of expertise traverses Europe as well as levels of position: from superintendents, sergeants and police officers, to fingerprint experts, lawyers and DNA specialists, to veterinarians, medical doctors, bacteriologists, virologists, molecular biologists, agronomists, and modelers, to professors, postdocs and PhD students.

#011 - Historical perspective on agroterrorism: Lessons learned from 1945 to 2012 (Keremidis et al., 2013)

Nov 2013

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CAW-011

This article presents a historical perspective on agroterrorism cases from 1945 until 2012. The threat groups and perpetrators associated with bio- and agroterrorism are clustered into several groups: apocalyptic sects, lone wolves, political groups, and religious groups. We used open-source information, and 4 biological agroterrorism cases are described: (1) in 1952, Mau Mau poisoned cattle in Kenya by using a plant toxin from the African milk bush plant; (2) in 1985, the USDA claimed that Mexican contract workers were involved in deliberately spreading screwworm (Cochliomyia hominivorax) among livestock; (3) in 2000, Palestinian media reported that Israeli settlers released sewer water into Palestinian agricultural fields; and (4) in 2011, a person was sentenced to prison after threatening US and UK livestock with the deliberate spread of foot-and-mouth disease virus. All 4 cases can be assigned to political groups. These cases have not attracted much attention in literature nor in the public media, and the credibility of the sources of information varies. We concluded that agroterrorism has not been a problem during the period studied. Lessons learned from the few cases have generated awareness about the fact that nontypical biological weapons and non–high-risk agents, such as African milk bush, screwworm, and sewer water, have been used by attackers to influence local decision makers. This review will be useful in improving future preparedness planning and developing countermeasures.

#010 - Les spécificités des coopérations pour la gestion d’un risque hybride et potentiel : une étude empirique exploratoire sur le terrorisme biologique (Boumrar, 2013)

Nov 2013

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CAW-010

L’ISM a organisé le vendredi 14 juin 2013 à 9h30 la soutenance de thèse en sciences de gestion de Madame Julie Boumrar. Le thème a porté sur « Les spécificités des coopérations pour la gestion d’un risque hybride et potentiel : une étude empirique exploratoire sur le terrorisme biologique ».

Jury composé de :

- Marc Barbier, Directeur de Recherche, INRA SenS, Université Paris−Est Marne La Vallée (Rapporteur)

- Philippe Very, Professeur, HDR, EDHEC BUSINESS SCHOOL (Rapporteur)

- Pascal Corbel, Maître de Conférences, HDR, ISM - UVSQ (Directeur de recherche)

- Annie Bartoli, Professeur des Universités, ISM - UVSQ (Examinateur)

- Jean−Philippe Denis, Professeur des Universités, Université Paris 10 − Nanterre (Examinateur)

- Romain Laufer, Professeur émérite, HEC Paris (Examinateur)

- François Salicis, Directeur Adjoint Bureau Organisation et Planification, Direction Générale de la Santé, Ministère de la Santé (Invité)

#009 - A new update of PQR (EPPO database on quarantine pests)

Nov 2013

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CAW-009

A new update of PQR (EPPO database on quarantine pests) has just been made!
Many new world distributions, data on host plants, and pictures have been added since the previous update.
If you have not already installed PQR on your computer, it can be freely downloaded from the EPPO website: http://www.eppo.int/DATABASES/pqr/pqr.htm

#008 - California’s bioterror victim, eucalyptus trees: Again and again the allegations!

Nov 2013

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CAW-008

Has insect detective Timothy Paine uncovered a case of biological sabotage—a war on the Golden State’s millions of eucalyptus trees? Or is it a cautionary example of our vulnerability to foreign pests?

#007 - Plantfoodsec: Plant and Food BioSecurity EU project (2011-2015)

Nov 2013

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CAW-007

Plant and Food Biosecurity - Network of Excellence is a five-year project to create a virtual research network in order to improve the quality and impact of plant and food biosecurity training and research in Europe.
The goal of the project is to create a virtual research network in order to improve the quality and impact of training and research in relation to crop and food biosecurity research in Europe. This will be achieved by bringing together specialists and encouraging the exchange of knowledge and the development of new ideas.

#006 - The great Cold War potato beetle battle (Burns, 2013)

Nov 2013

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CAW-006

During the Cold War, the East German government claimed the Americans were dropping potato beetles out of planes over their fields in an attempt to sabotage their crops - but was it true, or just propaganda? 

On 23 May 1950, farmer Max Troeger noticed two American planes flying over his fields in the East German village of Schoenfels bei Zwickau. The next morning - according to an East German government leaflet - he was shocked to discover that his fields were covered with Colorado potato beetles, an insect which can devastate potato crops. First described in 1824, the beetle had presented a major threat to European crops when it had first arrived with potatoes imported from the US in the late 19th Century. Was America deliberately dropping these beasties over the socialist East German state to sabotage its harvest and undermine its post-war reconstruction? The East German press reported a number of other cases in which planes flying overhead had been followed by a plague of potato beetles. Politicians raged against the "six-legged ambassadors of the American invasion" and a government report described "a criminal attack by American imperialist warmongers on our people's food supply". So the country began to mobilise against the enemy insects. There was a huge propaganda campaign - leaflets, posters, stories in the press - depicting the potato beetles as tiny American soldiers in army boots or helmets. They were called Amikafer - Yankee beetles.

#005 - The EU PlantFoodSec project: framework for a national approach to analyse and prioritise plant health risks

Nov 2013

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CAW-005

The expert unit on biological risks at the ANSES Plant Health Laboratory (LSV) has been partnering INRA-the French National Institute for Agricultural Research-since 2011 for the European PLANTFOODSEC project supported by the European Union under its Seventh Framework Programme (http://www.plantfoodsec.eu/). This project addresses the issue of the biosecurity of crops and other products of plant origin for food consumption. One of its main aims is to set up a network of excellence within Europe. This five-year project has been allocated six million euros of EU funding. Kicked off in February 2011, it now boasts a dozen European and international partners.

#004 - A map of agroterrorism incidents

Nov 2013

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CAW-004

Agroterrorism related incidents throughout history to present. 

Read more about agroterrorism for law enforcement here:

http://www.alanpeto.com/articles/27/1/Agro-Terrorism-and-Security-for-Patrol-Officers/Page1.html

Additional sources for this map: http://cns.miis.edu/research/cbw/agchron.htm

#003 - Biowarfare and bioterrorism emerging epidemics: Management and control (Bisen & Raghuvanshi, 2013)

Nov 2013

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CAW-003

Biowarfare is the intentional use of microorganisms and toxins, generally of microbial, plant, or animal origin, to produce disease and ultimately death in humans, livestock, and crops. The attraction of these bioweapons in war and for use in terroristic attacks is attributed to easy access to a wide range of disease-producing biological agents because of their low production costs, nondetection by routine existing security systems, and their easy transportation from one place to another. In addition, currently available novel and accessible technologies give rise to the proliferation of such weapons that have implications for regional and global security. To counteract such threats and to securing the culture and defense of peace, the need for leadership and example in devising preventive and protective strategies has already been emphasized through international consultation and cooperation involving all the developed as well as developing countries. The principal goal of biowarfare and bioterrorism is the undermining and destruction of economic progress and stability. The emergence of bio-economic warfare as a weapon of mass destruction can be traced to the development and use of biological agents against economic target involving crops, livestock, and ecosystems. Furthermore, such warfare and terrorism can always be carried out under the pretext of natural circumstances that lead to outbreaks of various diseases and disasters.

#002 - The Microbial Rosetta Stone Central Agricultural Database: An information resource on high-consequence plant pathogens (Kamenidou et al., 2013)

Nov 2013

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CAW-002

Microbial pathogens of humans, animals, and plants can serve as potential agents of biowarfare, bioterrorism, and biocrime. Previously, the Microbial Rosetta Stone (MRS) Central database, an easily accessible informational resource tool, was developed to assist law enforcement personnel in the event of a disease investigation by providing key information on pathogens of concern. Although the database already contained information on a few high-profile plant pathogens, the coverage was insufficient considering the large number of plant pathogens that pose a threat, not only to agricultural production but also to natural plant resources such as forests and rangelands. In this project, 100 plant pathogens of high consequence were selected for study, existing literature on these agents was reviewed, and both the sources and key pathogen information provided therein were curated in the new Agricultural Database (AgDB), an accessory to the existing MRS Central Database. Chosen for inclusion in the MRS Central AgDB were plant pathogens having significant potential for damage to U.S. agricultural and natural ecosystems. The selection process included review of several previously developed plant-pathogen threat lists and recommendations from experts within the U.S. plant biosecurity community. Pathogen information was collected by searching a number of relevant literature databases, sites on the World Wide Web, and other resources. For inclusion in the MRS, the information was curated into categories: pathogen taxonomy, nomenclature synonyms, disease symptoms and geographic distribution, plant hosts, insect vectors, detection and diagnostic methods, laboratory and field protocols, sample collection, and epidemiology. The resulting AgDB enhances the MRS Central Database by summarizing and linking key information on high-threat plant diseases and their causal agents to relevant scientific literature and internet resources. The AgDB contains critical, key information on high-consequence plant pathogens, curated in a format that is readily accessible and easily searched. The resource enhances the existing MRS Central Database and provides law enforcement, forensic, and investigative personnel with an additional tool with which to respond to microbial emergencies, particularly those affecting the agricultural and environmental sectors.

#001 - Penalty against "Acts of bioterrorism against agricultural crops and animals" is now in the Code of Virginia (US), 18.2-46.7.§

Nov. 2013

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CAW-001

§ 18.2-46.7 Act of bioterrorism against agricultural crops or animals; penalty. 

Any person who maliciously destroys or devastates agricultural crops or agricultural animals having a value of $2,500 or more through the use of an infectious biological substance with the intent to (i) intimidate the civilian population or (ii) influence the conduct or activities of the government of the United States, a state or locality through intimidation, is guilty of a Class 3 felony.

For the purposes of this section “agricultural animal” means all livestock and poultry as defined in § 3.2-5900 and “agricultural crop” means cultivated plants or produce, including grain, silage, forages, oilseeds, vegetables, fruits, nursery stock or turf grass. 

This law was first created in 2002. The record of its establishment is cataloged in chapter Array of that year’s edition of “Acts of Assembly,” the annual state publication listing all changes made to the Code of Virginia in that year.