Southern Plant Diagnostic Network, University of Florida
Funded by Cooperative State Research, Extension and Education Service (CSREES), USDA
Rick Sapp, PhD
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Florida SART Technical Writer
US Dept. of Health & Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
American Veterinary Medical Association
US Dept. of Interior, US Geological Survey
University of Florida, Institute of Food & Agricultural Sciences
University of California, Agriculture & Natural Resources; Mississippi State University Extension Service; University of Texas, Dr. Philip Varghese, Fluid Mechanics
Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission
Susan Halbert, PhD; Gail Wisler, PhD; Gerald Holmes, PhD, North Carolina State University; Jim Stack, PhD, Kansas State University; R. Winstead, Adolph Northern, Lee Island Coast CVB, University of North Dakota, Long Lake Fishing Club; Theadore Wells, Stanton, Texas
Explain agroterrorism and bioterrorism
Identify examples of agroterrorism and bioterrorism from history
Explain how Florida may be vulnerable agriculturally, geographically and climatologically
Identify likely agricultural threats should Florida specifically become a terror target
Discuss the NPDN, National Plant Diagnostic Network
Explain how Florida citizens and government can mobilize to prevent a terrorist act and how they may mount a coordinated response
Agroterrorism (In reverse and with unintended consequences)
Florida’s Agroterrorism Experience
Florida has had no known intentional case of agroterrorism to date. The potential is huge, however. Most cases of invasive, destructive plants, animals and insects have either been accidental or “acts of God.”
What is “bioterrorism?”
The deliberate release of viruses, bacteria, other germs or chemicals to cause illness or death in people, animals, or plants.
More than 1,000 microbiological libraries worldwide, naturally occurring disease and national bio-weapons programs, there are ample sources from which agents can be obtained
Two weapons categories
Disease-causing organisms such
as bacteria, viruses and prions
Toxic substances produced by or from
living organisms such as bacterial toxins, fungi and molds, plant extracts and animal toxins
What’s the difference?
Although there is some overlap, the intent of agroterrorism is to attack and destroy the plant and animal infrastructure while the intent of bioterrorism is to threaten people directly with biological organisms.
Where Florida is Vulnerable
17 million residents are crowded into the Florida peninsula and more than 75 million visit each year!
Florida and The World
Florida – A “Sentinel State”
Florida is a “Sentinel State”
A constant invasion of exotic species
Not native to the Florida or North American eco-system
Causes harm to or has potential to cause harm to the environment
Can be a native American species that has invaded a new area or crop or from Africa or Asia or even from another world!
Congressional Research Service, The Library of Congress “Agroterrorism: Threats and Preparedness” by Jim Monke, Analyst in Agricultural Policy, August, 13, 2004
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention www.cdc.gov
Working Together To Protect Florida’s Agriculture & Way of Life
Now, Test Your Knowledge and Awareness (1 of 3)
(True or False) The United States has never participated in planning, developing or carrying out acts of agroterrorism or bioterrorism.
The essential difference between agroterrorism and bioterrorism is ____________________________________________________ .
(Yes or No) The accidental release into the fragile Florida ecosystem of a pet snake that one can no longer care for should be prosecuted as an act of bioterrorism.
Florida is called a “sentinel state” because _______________________ .
Which of the following Florida industries is considered immune to an attack by an agro-terrorist?
Citrus industry (too wide-spread)
Cattle and horse industries (animals are just impossibly difficult)
Nursery industry (nope – species confusion)
Vegetables (would take an airplane and no one would do that …)
5. All are possible targets as well as timber and even pets!
Pre/Post Test (2 of 3)
6. Ensuring the safety and wholesomeness of food and other consumer products through inspection and testing programs is the mission of which of the following Florida offices?
1. Office of Safety and Wholesomeness of Food
2. Office of Bio and Food Security Preparedness
3. Office of Other Consumer Nuisance Regulations
7. (Yes or No) The 24/7 toll free telephone number of Florida’s Agriculture Law Enforcement office is 1-800-342-5869 and you should call it right away if you suspect any case of or issue with agro- or bio- terrorism. (Hint. The correct answer is “Yes.” Please remember this number!)
8. (Circle the correct answer) The National Plant Diagnostic Network is responsible for training which of the following volunteer guardians of America’s agriculture industry.
1. First Responders
2. First Detectors
3. First Decorators
Pre/Post Test (3 of 3)
Which of the following may not an objective of a trained terrorist?
To cause fear and insecurity
To make a “political or economic statement”
To cause harm to the enemy’s infrastructure
All of the above may be terrorist objectives
On a scale of 1 to 10, one being very uneasy and apprehensive, and ten being rock-solid safe and secure, I feel that Florida is well-prepared for a possible bioterror or agroterror event. ______
Test Answer Key (1 of 2)
It is instructive to think of bioterror as specific acts directed at individuals, crowds or populations, such as sending anthrax spores through the mail. Agroterror is a general act, intending to sew death, destruction and dismay by indirect means, such as introducing a plant virus that may take years to become destructive to a host industry.
This is an opinion question and one could argue all sides of the issue.
Florida is a “sentinel state” because it is uniquely situated by climate and geographic position to host exotic and harmful immigrants.
#5. All are possible targets as well as timber and even pets!
#2. Office of Bio and Food Security Preparedness
The 24/7 toll free telephone number of Florida’s Agriculture Law Enforcement office is 1-800-342-5869 and you should call it right away if you suspect any case of or issue with agro- or bio- terrorism.
Test Answer Key (2 of 2)
#2. First Detectors
#4. All of the above may be terrorist objectives
This too is an opinion question and there is no right or wrong answer. It is entirely personal. However, if you have an idea that you believe will make America stronger or more vigilant without sacrificing our free and democratic way of life, please write that idea on the answer sheet!
Agroterrorism: when any person knowingly or maliciously uses biological or chemical agents as weapons against the agriculture industry and food supply. It may also be thought of as the malicious use of plant or animal pathogens to cause disease in the agricultural sector – plants or animals.
Bioterrorism: The deliberate release of viruses, bacteria, other germs or chemicals to cause illness or death in people, animals, or plants.
SART: The Florida State Agricultural Response Team. A multi-agency coordinating group consisting of governmental and private entities dedicated to all-hazard disaster preparedness, planning, response and recovery for the animal and agriculture sectors in Florida.
Terrorist: One who utilizes violence and intimidation systematically to achieve political objectives, while disguised as a civilian non-combatant. The use of a civilian disguise exempts the perpetrator from protection under the Geneva Conventions, and consequently if captured they are liable for prosecution as common criminals.
Reporting Suspicious Plant and Animal Diseases Cases
Agroterrorism and Bioterrorism Prevention and Response
This concludes our presentation on “The threat of Agroterrorism and Bioterrorism in Florida: Prevention and a Coordinated Response.” Thank you for attending and participating.