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Protecting American Agriculture While Facilitating Free Trade

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Agriculture is a very valuable to the U.S. economically and socially. Due to the nature of biology, agriculture is highly susceptible to easily created biological weapons. It is the duty of U.S. inspectors to prevent these weapons from entering the country, but increasing pressure from economic globalization and foreign trade agreements has “captured” U.S. regulatory agencies. Using rational decision making models the U.S. has developed policies that allow both the facilitation of trade and increase security and protection for agricultural crops, livestock, and the U.S. food supply.


Agriculture makes up a major portion of the U.S. economy. Directly or indirectly agriculture accounts for approximately 16 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product, and 12 percent of all jobs (Ridge, 2002). Agriculture also accounts for up to $140 billion annually in exports (Brandt, 2001). The efficient and effective production methods of U.S. farmers have resulted in Americans paying the lowest per capita price for food of any country, at $0.115 per dollar earned (Myers, 2002).

The words agriculture and terrorism do not usually go together, however, since the attacks of September 11th and the introduction of anthrax into the U.S. mail system, the need to consider susceptibilities to acts of terrorism, in the nation’s food supply chain has been raised (Turvey, Mafoua, Schilling, & Onyango, 2003).

Agroterrorism is a very high threat and a likely plan of attack for future terrorist attacks, it was reported that a significant part of the Al Qaeda training manual is dedicated to agroterrorism (Peters, 2003). There are many reasons why a terrorist act aimed at agricultural products are a growing concern. The first is that agricultural weapons are very easy to acquire and produce. A plant or animal diseases can be isolated from the environment and harvested using basic microbiological knowledge and supplies. Agricultural weapons can be used to full capacity in their raw form, unlike biological weapons which need to be produced in a weaponized form (Casagrande, 2000). It is known that currently three countries have highly developed agricultural warfare capabilities (Horn 1999). The second reason is that is easy to enter agricultural weapons into the country and disperse them without being detected. The detection of biological weapons entering the U.S. depends solely on whether a thorough

physical inspection is applied, and even then they may not be discovered.

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