PLANT AND FOOD BIOSECURITY
Start date: Feb 1, 2011,
End date: Jan 31, 2016
This project will focus on biological threats having the capacity to affect and damage agriculture, infect plants and ultimately affect the food and feed at any stage in the food supply chain.Traditional thinking and planning regarding bioterrorism has focused primarily on humans as the primary target. If the perpetrator’s objectives can be met solely through the creation of human illness, death and associated panic, this may be appropriate. However, if economic and political vulnerabilities are included as contributing factors, agricultural bioterrorism must be considered among other possible avenues of attack.Agricultural bioterrorism (agroterrorism) is a subset of bioterrorism, and it is defined as the deliberate introduction of an animal or plant disease/pest with the goal of generating fear, causing economic losses, and/or undermining stability.Programmes preparing for attacks against agriculture are not new, and have been conducted both by nation-states and by substate organizations throughout history. At least nine countries (Canada, France, Germany, Iraq, Japan, South Africa, United Kingdom, USA and the former USSR) had documented agricultural bioweapons programmes during some part of the 20th century. Four other countries (Egypt, North Korea, Rhodesia and Syria) are believed to have or have had agricultural bioweapons programmes.In the mean time, natural outbreaks of diseases demonstrate the destructive potential of an agroterroristic attack.Recent trends in biosecurity recommend a shift from a largely national approach to biosecurity towards greater international cooperation. Current capabilities to detect and respond to agroterrorism are limited and spread among many organizations, with a corresponding lack of coordination.The project deals with threats which are multifaceted, interrelated, complex and increasingly transnational in their impact. The European Network of Excellence PLANTFOODSEC aims to establish a virtual Centre of Competence in plant and food biosecurity to enhance preparedness and response capabilities to prevent, to respond and to recover from a biological incident or deliberate criminal activity threatening the European agrifood system.
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