[House Hearing, 109 Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
EVALUATING THE THREAT OF AGRO-TERRORISM
SUBCOMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE,
INFORMATION SHARING, AND
TERRORISM RISK ASSESSMENT
COMMITTEE ON HOMELAND SECURITY
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED NINTH CONGRESS
MAY 25, 2005
Serial No. 109-16
Printed for the use of the Committee on Homeland Security
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COMMITTEE ON HOMELAND SECURITY
Christopher Cox, California, Chairman
Don Young, Alaska Bennie G. Thompson, Mississippi
Lamar S. Smith, Texas Loretta Sanchez, California
Curt Weldon, Pennsylvania, Vice Edward J. Markey, Massachusetts
Chairman Norman D. Dicks, Washington
Christopher Shays, Connecticut Jane Harman, California
Peter T. King, New York Peter A. DeFazio, Oregon
John Linder, Georgia Nita M. Lowey, New York
Mark E. Souder, Indiana Eleanor Holmes Norton, District of
Tom Davis, Virginia Columbia
Daniel E. Lungren, California Zoe Lofgren, California
Jim Gibbons, Nevada Sheila Jackson-Lee, Texas
Rob Simmons, Connecticut Bill Pascrell, Jr., New Jersey
Mike Rogers, Alabama Donna M. Christensen, U.S. Virgin
Stevan Pearce, New Mexico Islands
Katherine Harris, Florida Bob Etheridge, North Carolina
Bobby Jindal, Louisiana James R. Langevin, Rhode Island
Dave G. Reichert, Washington Kendrick B. Meek, Florida
Michael McCaul, Texas
Charlie Dent, Pennsylvania
SUBCOMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE, INFORMATION SHARING, AND TERRORISM RISK
Rob Simmons, Connecticut, Chairman
Curt Weldon, Pennsylvania Zoe Lofgren, California
Peter T. King, New York Loretta Sanchez, California
Mark E. Souder, Indiana Jane Harman, California
Daniel E. Lungren, California Nita M. Lowey, New York
Jim Gibbons, Nevada Sheila Jackson-Lee, Texas
Stevan Pearce, New Mexico Bob Etheridge, North Carolina
Bobby Jindal, Louisiana James R. Langevin, Rhode Island
Dave G. Reichert, Washington Kendrick B. Meek, Florida
Charlie Dent, Pennsylvania Bennie G. Thompson, Mississippi
Christopher Cox, California (Ex (Ex Officio)
C O N T E N T S
The Honorable Rob Simmons, a Representative in Congress From the
State of Connecticut, and Chairman, Subcommittee on
Intelligence, Information Sharing, and Terrorism Risk
Oral Statement................................................. 1
Prepared Statement............................................. 1
The Honorable Zoe Lofgren, a Representative in Congress From the
State of California, and Ranking Member, Subcommittee on
Intelligence, Information Sharing, and Terrorism Risk
The Honorable Christopher Cox, a Representative in Congress From
the State of California, and Chairman, Committee on Homeland
The Honorable Bennie G. Thompson, a Representative in Congress
From the State of Mississippi, and Ranking Member, Committee on
Oral Statement................................................. 5
Prepared Statement............................................. 5
The Honorable Charlie Dent, a Representative in Congress From the
State of Pennsylvania.......................................... 33
The Honorable Bob Etheridge, a Representative in Congress From
the State of North Carolina.................................... 6
The Honorable Jim Gibbons, a Representative in Congress From the
State of Nevada................................................ 30
The Honorable James R. Langevin, a Representative in Congress
From the State of Rhode Island................................. 34
Dr. Rocco Casagrande, Managing Director, Gryphon Scientific
Oral Statement................................................. 19
Prepared Statement............................................. 21
Mr. Joseph W. Reardon, Food Administrator, Food and Drug
Protection Division, North Carolina Department of Agriculture
and Consumer Services
Oral Statement................................................. 7
Prepared Statement............................................. 9
EVALUATING THE THREAT
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information
Sharing, and Terrorism Risk Assessment,
Committee on Homeland Security,
The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 2:15 p.m., in
Room 210, Cannon House Office Building, Hon. Rob Simmons
[chairman of the subcommittee] presiding.
Present: Representatives Simmons, Gibbons, Dent, Cox (Ex
Officio), Lofgren, Etheridge, Langevin, and Thompson [Ex
Mr. Simmons. The subcommittee will come to order. Instead
of reading my opening statement because of the hour, I would
like to insert it into the record as if read.
[The information follows:]
Prepared Statement from the Honorable Rob Simmons
I'd like to make one quick administrative note for Members before
recognizing our witnesses. Today's hearing will be followed immediately
by a classified threat briefing from experts from the DHS Office of
Information Analysis, the National Counterterrorist Center, and the
Federal Bureau of Investigation in the area of agricultural terrorism.
This will be meeting for Members and limited committee staff only and
will take place in the secure Committee spaces of room 202A of the
Our witnesses here today include Dr. Rocco Casagrande, Managing
Director of Gryphon Scientific and former UN weapons inspector and Mr.
Joseph Reardon, Food Administrator for the North Carolina Department of
Agriculture & Consumer Services, Food and Drug Division.
Thank you both for being here today. It is very important that the
threat of agro-terrorism be understood in the post 9/11 context. As the
9/11 Commission reminded us, our intelligence community suffered from a
``failure of imagination.'' We in Congress must not make the same
mistake. This hearing, along with the classified briefing we intend to
have later today, will serve to focus on a threat that some in our
country believe has been underestimated.
For instance, in December of 2004, former Secretary of Health and
Human Services, Tommy Thompson summed up his view on the potential of
terrorist attacks on U.S. agriculture when he remarked:
``For the life of me, I cannot understand why the terrorists have
not attacked our food supply because it is so easy to do.''
The focus of to day's hearing is understanding that potential
threat: What are the terrorist intentions and capabilities, what
materials, both natural and engineered are available and have terrorist
groups shown interest in an agricultural attack?
While attacks against agriculture are as old as war itself, the use
of biological weapons against agricultural targets has remained
primarily a theoretical consideration. The General Accounting Office
considers bioterrorism to be an emerging threat but has concluded that
terrorists are less likely to use biological weapons than conventional
explosives. Additionally, Dr. Peter Chalk of the RAND Corporation has
pointed out that ``Despite the ease by which an act of agro-terrorism
could be carried out . . . it is unlikely to constitute a primary form
of terrorist aggression. This is probably because such acts would
probably be viewed as ``too dry'' in comparison with traditional
tactics in the sense that they do not produce immediate, visible
The historical record indicates that biological weapons have rarely
been used against crops or livestock despite extensive research devoted
to this possibility in the past--particularly during World War II and
the immediate aftermath, when several countries, including the United
States, developed crop and livestock diseases as weapons of mass
Similarly, since 1912 there have been 12 documented cases of non-
state uses of biological agents to deliberately infect livestock or
contaminate produce. Of those, only two could be seen as terrorist in
nature: The first example is widespread food poisoning carried out by a
cult in Oregon in 1984. The other example is an attempt by the
Japanese-based Aum Shinrikyo organization, in the early 1990s, to
spread anthrax and botulinum toxin.
While history gives us an indication of what may be on the horizon,
that does not mean we should look solely to the past. As 9/11 reminded
us, we must think ``outside of the box'' in order to anticipate the
next attack. But in doing so, we must also assess the risk of agro-
terrorism in context with other threats to our homeland security, such
as a potential radiological, nuclear or conventional bomb attack.
I'd again like to thank our witnesses today for helping us put the
threat in context and offering their perspectives on the threat to
Mr. Simmons. The topic this afternoon is evaluating the
threat of agro-terrorism, an issue that is of great interest to
us on this subcommittee and of great interest to many Americans
around the country. We are all familiar with the attack on our
country that took place on 9/11, an attack that involved the
aviation industry and involved those of our citizens living and
working in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and
But there are other threats that we have to address when we
look at the risks and the vulnerabilities of this country. One
of those goes to the issue of our food supply and the
possibilities of agro-terrorism, and that is the subject of
this afternoon's hearing.
I note that Mr. Etheridge would like to introduce our
witness. I will extend to him that privilege.
But first I would like to yield to our ranking member to
see if she has comments that she would like to make.
Ms. Lofgren. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. As with your comment,
I will submit my full statement for the record to save time.
But I would note that I am glad that our subcommittee is
the first, to my knowledge, to address this potential threat to
our Nation. As you have pointed out, an attack on agriculture
would not necessarily kill a large number of people, at least
not immediately, but it is something we ought to be concerned
about. I think the hook for our subcommittee really is the role
of intelligence in understanding the nature of the threat and
certainly communicating with the appropriate authorities about
what is known and what steps to take.
At the conclusion of this public hearing, we will have a
classified briefing that will go into things that are more
appropriately dealt with in that setting. I would note that
some of the questions I have will be reserved for that session,
because the last thing we want to do is provide a roadmap to
potential terrorists through our questions and answers here in
this public session.
So with that, I would submit my statement for the record in
noting that Mr. Etheridge is going to introduce the witness and
also noting that Mr. Thompson, our ranking member for the full
committee, is also present. Both of them have rural districts
and know more about agriculture than I do.
So I yield back.
[The information follows:]
Talking Points from the Honorable Zoe Lofgren
I am glad that our Subcommittee is the first to address this
serious threat to our nation. Agro-terrorism is an important issue that
has not received the full attention of the Homeland Security Committee
When most people think of terrorism, they think of bombed out
bridges, buildings, and hijacked airplanes being used as weapons -
farms and ranches do not immediately come to mind.
However, ranches and farms remain valuable targets for terrorists.
This is because of the many points of access to agriculture or food
supply systems. It is also due to the relative ease of spreading highly
contagious diseases among livestock, such as foot and mouth disease.
Unlike a nuclear weapon, an attack on agriculture would not
necessarily kill a large number of people--at least not immediately.
The first obvious signs of an agro-terror attack may not be seen for
days, and may not even appear to be an intentional attack.
That is why intelligence information is critical to identifying and
stopping an attack before or immediately after it occurs.
The Role of Intelligence
The agriculture industry faces the same information sharing
challenges as other critical infrastructure sectors.
For example, the agencies responsible for collecting
information are not the same ones responsible for sharing it
with local and state authorities.
That results in confusion about whether and how to
share classified information with parties that need it.
It also ``muddies the water'' about what actions
should be taken, by whom, and even where in the food processing
system action should be taken.We need better mechanisms for
intelligence agencies to share information.
First, we must determine whether the Intelligence
Community has the resources and talent it needs to sufficiently
assess the agro-terror threat.
Second, the intelligence information provided should
be easily accessible at the federal, state, and local levels.
The information should be specific and actionable by government
officials and those in the private sector.
Third, the information must be conveyed quickly and
reliably in a way that targets the specific sector as much as
In closing, it is past time that our Committee addresses the issue
of agro-terrorism. I hope today's testimony is a starting point for
future discussions of this important issue.
Mr. Simmons. I thank you for those remarks.
The chairman of the full committee, Mr. Cox, the gentleman
from California has arrived, and I would yield to him for an
Mr. Cox. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I will be brief. We are a
Nation that is been nurtured for well over 200 years by our
farmers, and our farmers produce food for much of the rest of
the world. We have in them a great national asset of global,
economic and humanitarian significance, of which we are all
justifiably proud. They are one of America's greatest success
Terrorists have different values, feeding the hungry isn't
important to them. On the contrary, there is little doubt that
they would ruthlessly starve us all if they could.
But that is not really the point. Noting that terrorists
are evil and seek to propagate evil is not news, not actionable
intelligence to any of us. Suffice it to say that we know
terrorists would be glad to inflict great harm on our civilian
population and would gladly use biological and chemical weapons
to do so.
Our agricultural community is a critically important and
irreplaceable national asset. Our great assets can, in homeland
security terms, be viewed as vulnerabilities, potential
terrorist targets. For precisely that reason, they are
critically important and irreplaceable. Meanwhile, we know that
Al-Qa`ida and its ilk continue to seek opportunities to inflict
massive, irreversible harm on us here at home.
That brings us to this afternoon's task, evaluating the
threat of agro-terrorism. In other words, we are asking the
question whether the vulnerabilities in our agricultural
community line up with what we know of terrorist capabilities,
plans and intentions.
If they do, then we must consider that our agricultural
sector is at risk and then move on in other settings to
consider how best to reduce or eliminate that risk.
First of all, though, we have to know what we are up
against. Only then can we decide what to do about it.
Our witnesses will start us down that path. I want to
welcome you and thank you for being here today. We hope first
to get from you a historical perspective on agricultural
attacks. That has to be our baseline.
Then we want to learn what is known about terrorist
capabilities and about terrorist plans and intentions to target
America's agricultural center.
That will bring us up to date.
In short, we have to start by disciplining ourselves to
speak in factual rather than hypothetical terms. This hearing
is such a step. If we do learn that there is a real risk of
attack, a known threat aligning with an actual vulnerability in
our agricultural sector, then we must ask how most effectively
to prevent the potential attack.
If the risk is, at present, largely theoretical, we must
nevertheless take it seriously, but at the same time exercise
the discipline to prioritize that hypothetical risk against
known risks to other significant sectors to our economy and to
our society at large.
One final comment, Mr. Chairman. Examining the threat
before settling on the solution before setting our national
counterterrorism priorities makes eminent good sense. The
uncomfortable fact is, we must prioritize even when it comes to
Homeland Security to protecting American lives and our critical
infrastructure. We have to work smart if we are to prevent the
next attempted terrorist attack and the next after that.
We must continue to insist on the discipline of examining
the universe of potential targets and the cold life of what we
actually know about terrorist capabilities, plans and
intentions. That is good common sense, and these are, of
course, uncommon times. It is as right, though, for California,
the largest agricultural State, as it is for Mississippi, North
Carolina or anywhere else.
So it is the pattern we will follow in examining the
potential for terrorist attack on other sectors of our society,
I hope, as other subcommittees and the full committee pursue
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I yield back.
Mr. Simmons. I thank the chairman of the full committee for
Now I would like to recognize the ranking member of the
full committee, Mr. Thompson, for his opening statement.
Mr. Thompson. Thank you, very much, Mr. Chairman, and
ranking member Ms. Lofgren, and Mr. Cox, chairman of the full
committee. I look forward to the testimony today. I am one of
those members of Congress who lives in a very rural district.
Agriculture is the second leading source of income for my
constituents. This issue is very near and dear to me. I have a
written statement for the record that I will submit.
I also would like to indicate that about 4 months ago, we
made the request of the chairman to look at agro-terrorism from
the committee standpoint. This is the beginning of what will be
a series of hearings on this critical issue over the next few
I will yield the rest of my time, Mr. Chair, and submit the
written testimony for the record.
[The information follows:]
Prepared Statement from the Honorable Bennie Thompson for the Record
I am glad we are finally holding what I expect will be the
first of several hearings on the critical issue of Agro-Terrorism.
Almost four months ago, I requested that Chairman Cox hold
a hearing to determine whether the Department of Homeland Security has
made any progress toward meeting the responsibilities laid out in
Homeland Security Presidential Directive-9 (HSPD-9).
This directive gave DHS responsibility for ensuring our
agriculture and food supply security efforts were coordinated and
implemented - including efforts of the state and local governments and
The Threat is Real
Agro-terrorism--and the threat it poses to our food
supply--is as great today as it was in January 2004 when HSPD-9 was
In fact, this past December, retiring Secretary of Health
and Human Services Tommy Thompson stated, ``For the life of me, I
cannot understand why the terrorists have not attacked our food supply
because it is so easy to do. We are importing a lot of food from the
Middle East, and it would be easy to tamper with that.''
During the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, an Al-Qa`ida
training manual found in a cave reportedly discussed the destruction of
crops, livestock and food processing operations.
It is imperative that we fully understand the threats
facing our agriculture and food supply sectors.
Role of the Federal Government
It is also imperative that the Federal government do
everything possible to support local and state efforts to secure these
sectors. This can be done in several ways.
First, the Federal government can help by providing timely
and accurate intelligence information to states through a reliable
system that can be easily accessed by officials. This information
should also be sufficiently unclassified so that it can be disseminated
as quickly as possible to the necessary parties.
Another way the Federal government can assist state and
local governments is for DHS to provide a detailed implementation
strategy for HSPD-9. This strategy has yet to be shared with Congress--
even though we requested this information over a year ago.
A strategy would provide much-needed clarity to folks by
identifying concrete steps that need to be taken or more clearly
spelling out the roles and responsibilities of the various agencies
involved in preventing, detecting, and responding to an agro-terror
I believe we will hear testimony shortly that speaks
directly to this point.
Finally, I believe the Federal government can reduce the
local response time to an incident by providing quick and accurate
scientific assessments when called upon by state and local agriculture
departments and the private sector.
I look forward to this hearing as a first-step in
fulfilling this Committee's constitutional oversight responsibilities
over the Department of Homeland Security.
Mr. Simmons. I thank the gentleman for his comments. At
this point, I would like to recognize Mr. Etheridge for
purposes of an introduction.
Then I will introduce Dr. Casagrande.
Mr. Etheridge. Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity
and Ms. Lofgren, Chairman Cox and Ranking Member Thompson, for
having the hearing and secondly, I hope this is just the
beginning of the hearings we will have and hopefully some field
hearings because this is, as I think has been said, a very
I am pleased today that we are going to get to hear from my
friend Joe Reardon from North Carolina, who really has a story
to tell. He has been instrumental in developing North
Carolina's agro-security, preparation and response plans. I
think we will learn a great deal today from his experience.
As you well know and has been stated already, agricultural
is one of our Nation's 17 critical infrastructure sectors and
contributes about $1.2 trillion to our economy every year and
it counts for one in six jobs.
We certainly know that terrorists would like nothing better
than to interrupt our food supply. I think it is vital that we
do this, have these hearings. I thank you for doing it. It is
important that we get Federal agencies working together with
State agencies and the private sector, because it is
Joe is currently food administrator for the North Carolina
Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services Food and Drug
Division. He has about 25 years of service in food inspection,
safety and security. He previously served as a Special
Assistant to the Commission of Agricultural Food and
In this role he had the opportunity to develop a statewide
mitigation program for Exotic Newcastle Disease and led the
development of the Nation's first infectious disease hazard to
be included in a State FEMA plan.
He holds degrees from North Carolina State University and
is currently working on his second degree from a university in
the State. He is currently serving as a board member for the
Association of Food and Drug Officials of the Southern States
and is also a member of the Association of Food and Drug
Officials. He is the author of numerous national articles.
We are pleased to have him with us today, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Simmons. I thank you for that introduction. Yes,
indeed, Mr. Reardon, we are glad to have you here.
Dr. Rocco Casagrande is our second witness. He is the
managing director of Gryphon Scientific. For the past 5 years,
he has been studying the problems of agricultural bioterrorism.
For several years, he served as the United Nations Biological
Weapons Inspector in Iraq, where I understand he was engaged in
numerous inspections, over 50 inspections in that country. He
also served as chief of the United Nations Biological Analysis
He comes to us from Cornell University, where he has a BA
in chemistry and a BA in biology and a Ph.D. in experimental
biology from MIT. He is the publisher of numerous articles on
molecular biology, cell biology, genetics and biochemistry.
Welcome, it is good to have you here.
Gentlemen, a year ago, the former Secretary of Health and
Human Services, Tommy Thompson, made the following comment
regarding the potential of terrorist attacks on U.S.
agricultural when he said, and I quote. ``For the life of me, I
cannot understand why the terrorists have not attacked our food
supply, because it is so easy to do.''
Because it is so easy to do.
The focus of today's hearings is that of the potential
threat. What are the terrorist intentions and capabilities?
What materials, both natural and engineered, are available and
have terrorist groups shown interest in an agricultural attack?
That is the question we put to you today, and we look forward
to hearing your testimony.
Mr. Simmons. You can proceed in any way you wish. You can
flip a coin, you can go alphabetically. I will leave it to you
STATEMENT OF JOSEPH W. REARDON, FOOD ADMINISTRATOR, FOOD AND
DRUG PROTECTION DIVISION, NORTH CAROLINA DEPARTMENT OF
AGRICULTURE AND CONSUMER SERVICES
Mr. Reardon. Thank you, Chairman, my name is Joe Reardon, I
am thankful to be here today--and Chairman Rob Simmons and
Ranking Member Zoe Lofgren and distinguished members of this
subcommittee. I would like to thank you for the opportunity
today to offer this testimony. I have the privilege and honor
to convey to the subcommittee--.
Mr. Simmons. Gentlemen, if you could turn your microphone
on that would be helpful.
Mr. Reardon. Okay. I will start over again. Chairman Rob
Simmons and Ranking Member Zoe Lofgren and distinguished
members of the subcommittee. I would like to thank you for the
opportunity to offer this testimony today.
I have the privilege and honor to convey to the
subcommittee the significance of protecting North Carolina
agriculture, both economically and in terms of food production.
My direct involvement with food safety at various levels for
more than 24 years will hopefully provide the subcommittee a
prospectus from the grassroots level.
North Carolina is one of a handful of States that produces
the majority of America's food supply. Our swine and turkey
industries rank both second and our poultry industry ranks
third in the nation. Agri-business contributes $59 billion
annually to the State's economy and accounts for 21.5 percent
of the State's income, and employs over 18 percent of our
Thus, North Carolina's economic stability depends on agri-
business and, in turn, the Nation depends on North Carolina's
food and agriculture. A significant challenge facing
agriculture is that we do lack a full understanding of the
vulnerabilities to agriculture.
Taiwan learned firsthand the economic impact of foot and
mouth disease. In 2002, the first year Taiwan port was cleared
for export following the outbreak of 1997, their export levels
were less than a half of 1 percent of the preoutbreak levels,
When Exotic Newcastle Disease broke out in California. Our
State, leaning forward, funded a project of $263,000 to conduct
an assessment and education initiative to reduce the potential
threat to our own commercial poultry industry valued at $2.1
Our assessment of the transportation sector revealed
something quite alarming to us. North Carolina today receives
1,300 birds a day through the United States Postal Service with
over 70 percent of these birds having no visible formal health
documentation accompanying those birds into our State. Birds
are commingled during shipping, sorting and storage and may be
transported to other States posing a national risk.
But animal production facilities are at risk, but so is
produce and other crops and not just from exotic diseases and
terrorists. My department, in the first week of May, received a
call from a local retail grocery chain describing a local
complaint where a small child had bit into a strawberry with a
sewing needle embedded in the product. Follow-up investigation
suggested this to be an isolated incident.
But in the case of broader-scale adulteration or serious
injury, the impact would be felt statewide. As this is the peak
week of strawberry season in North Carolina, this act alone
could have placed a $15 million industry at risk. The former
Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tommy Thompson said,
``For the life of me, I cannot understand why terrorists have
not attacked our food supply, because it is so easy to do,'' as
quoted by the chairman.
Committee members, unfortunately this is a true statement.
We have hardened and highly critical visible metropolitan
infrastructure. Agriculture becomes a ripe target or a highly
visible target or an economically potent impact. A summary of
the money spent on the entire counterterrorism efforts compiled
by the Association of Food and Drug Officials, revealed that
out of the $960 million in Federal funding given in 2003, 4.5
percent of that funding went to plant and animal disease
initiatives, while less than one half of 1 percent was devoted
to protecting all other elements by the food supply.
Securing agriculture presents unique challenges. I
respectfully submit to you a portion of our recommendations
with the remainder in my full testimony.
NCDA recommends a current review of the funding allocation
that is based on population in favor of formulas that will more
accurately reflect the agriculture risk. For example, North
Carolina, Sampson County has 1/12 of the population of
Mecklenburg County, but it generates five times the farming
cash receipts and is one of the most agriculturally productive
regions in the world.
In the same way that Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, CDC, has funneled bioterrorism funding for State
departments of Health and Human Services, a dedicated stream of
funding for State departments of agriculture with a mandate for
preparedness is absolutely necessary.
More than 80 percent of the food safety activities include
inspections, investigations of food-borne illness, enforcement
actions and response to emergencies involving food products are
performed at the State and local levels in the United States,
specifically departments of agriculture across this country.
State personnel are, therefore, in an ideal position to provide
food producing sector with outreach information, food defense
strategies and serve as a key link between the food production
system and law enforcement.
We also request a formal review of the procedures and
protocols for the movement of animals through the United States
Postal Service facilities, taking into considerations findings
of the North Carolina Exotic Newcastle Disease Project and the
implications of those unregulated shipments on public health
and the spread of agricultural diseases.
Through my testimony today, I hope to have been effective
in describing North Carolina's progressive stance in addressing
the agro-terrorism threat. North Carolina understands emergency
response issues, but we are anxious at how much remains to be
done in this State and the rest of the Nation. States have the
relationships to implement required programs to safeguard our
food supply. We have developed a culture of food safety since
1906, but we have yet to develop a culture of food defense.
We appreciate the opportunity to address the challenges
ahead, and I look forward to answering any questions that you
may have regarding my testimony.
[The statement of Mr. Reardon follows:]
Prepared Statement from Joseph W. Reardon
I would like to thank Chairman Rob Simmons, Ranking Member Zoe
Lofgren, and Distinguished Members of the Subcommittee for the
opportunity to offer this testimony. You are faced with a most
challenging task of anticipating plans of terrorists and deciding
between competing priorities to keep this nation safe and secure. My
direct involvement with food safety at various levels for more than 24
years will hopefully provide the Subcommittee with a perspective from
the grassroots level.
Today I have the privilege and honor to convey to the Subcommittee
the significance of North Carolina's agriculture, both economically and
in terms of food production. My testimony will address the threat of
agro-terrorism and describe the potential impact of such an attack. I
will conclude by delineating preparedness and mitigation activities
that the State of North Carolina is currently engaged in, and
respectfully submit to the committee several proposals for hardening
one of our greatest assets and most critical infrastructures; the food
supply from farm-to-fork.
North Carolina is one of a handful of states that produces the
majority of America's food supply. Our swine and turkey industries rank
2nd and poultry industry ranks 3rd highest in the United States.\1\ We
supply enough pork to feed lout of every 4 families in America and
supply I in 7 turkeys at Thanksgiving. These industries, along with
crops and associated agribusinesses, contribute $59 billion annually to
the State's economy, account for 21.5 percent of the State's income,
and employ over 18 percent of the work force.\2\ Thus, North Carolina's
economic stability depends on its agribusiness and, in turn, the nation
depends on North Carolina's food and agriculture.
THREAT TO AGRICULTURE AND POTENTIAL IMPACT
An attack on this nation's agriculture system is likely to have an
immediate, substantial, and permanent effect on our production
capability and export opportunities according to the Congressional
Research Service report titled, Agro-terrorism: Threats and
Preparedness released February 4, 2005.\3\
The foot and mouth disease (FMD) pellvirus, for example, persists
on clothing and in animal tissue. Little skill or training is required
for nefarious individuals to smuggle infected items or meat to the
United States and expose susceptible animals, be they cattle or hogs.
When we add to this equation over 20,000 hogs that leave NC every day
and the likelihood that terrorists would infect several states
simultaneously, we are certain to have a nationwide outbreak before we
first detect the disease. These conclusions are consistent with the
data garnered from the ``Crimson Sky'' FMD exercise series conducted by
the National Defense University with our Department providing technical
expertise. Findings of the disease modeling from this exercise
indicated that if 2 farms were infected, FMD would spread to 12 states
within 10 days.\4\ If 5 farms are initially infected, then the disease
could reach 35 states within the same period of 10 days. A GAO report
released in 2002 estimated that eradication may cost up to $24
billion.\5\ Taiwan learned first hand the economic impact of foot and
mouth disease. In 2002, the first year that Taiwan pork was cleared for
export following the 1997 outbreak, pork exports were just over half of
one percent of pre-outbreak levels.\6\
A significant challenge facing agriculture is that we do not have a
full understanding of our food and agriculture vulnerabilities. Aside
from awareness of several worst-case scenarios, we have only
rudimentary vulnerability data. One recent initiative to collect
detailed vulnerability information was made as part of the Exotic
Newcastle Disease (END) project conducted by the Department following
an outbreak of the disease in California poultry. One of the most
striking findings from this risk assessment is the unchecked mass
movement of poultry, game birds, and other species such as turkeys
through our United States Postal Service. Our assessment revealed that
North Carolina receives as many as 1,275 birds a day from across the
United States and over 70 percent of these birds gain entry without any
formal disease testing.7, 8 These birds are commingled
in the postal offices without proper biosecurity precautions and may be
further transported to other states posing a national risk. In light of
the persistent Avian Influenza outbreak in Asia, this situation is the
potential agricultural equivalent of the ``biological agent release at
a football stadium'' with a certain nationwide dispersion of sick
Animal production facilities are at risk, but so is produce and
other crops; and not just from exotic terrorists' agents. The North
Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (NCDA&CS), in
the first week of May 2005, received a call from a local retail grocery
chain describing a customer complaint where a child bit into a
strawberry with a sewing needle embedded in the product. Follow-up
investigation suggested this to be an isolated incident, but in the
case ofa broader scale adulteration or a serious injury, the impact
would be felt statewide. As this is the peak of strawberry season for
North Carolina, over $15 million is at risk.\9\
The threat of agro-terrorism can be just as potent a weapon as the
actual act. One documented case occurred in 1989 when a terrorist group
phoned the US Embassy in Chile claiming to have contaminated grapes
destined for the US with cyanide. Exhaustive surveillance efforts by
the Food and Drug Administration revealed only three suspicious grapes
on a dock in Philadelphia, PA. However, American supermarkets pulled
all Chilean ftuit including peaches, blueberries, blackberries, melons,
green apples, pears, and plums off shelves throughout the US resulting
in the loss of an entire season's fruit sales from Chile at a cost of
$200 million in lost revenue.\10\
The former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson
said, ``For the life of me, I cannot understand why the terrorists have
not attacked our food supply because it is so easy to do.\11\ ''
Unfortunately, this is a true statement. The NCDA&CS respectfully
submit to you that we are not prepared for this threat. Homeland
security funding has hardened critical infrastructures in America's
population centers and this is consistent with the affinity of Al-
Qa`ida for high profile targets. However, as we harden highly visible,
metropolitan infrastructures, greater pressures are placed on
agriculture as a ripe target for an asymmetrical attack with high
visibility and an economically potent impact.
NORTH CAROLINA PREPAREDNESS AND MITIGATION ACTIVITIES
North Carolina has a long history of disaster preparedness efforts
fine-tuned by repeated hurricanes. The State is proactive in
identifying and mitigating new threats within the constraints of
limited state budgets.
North Carolina formed a food safety and defense task
force in November 200 I in an effort to establish a unified and
coordinated approach to identify the vulnerabilities and
safeguard the food supply. The task force is co-chaired by
representatives from the North Carolina Department of Health
and Human Services and the North Carolina Department of
Agriculture and Consumer Services with membership from other
key state agencies, industry, and academia.
The Department provided the technical expertise to
conduct the Crimson Sky Exercise Series I alluded to previously
in addition to the follow-up exercises Crimson Winter and
We have invested heavily in a Geospatial/Geographical
Information Systems (GIS) that not only serves Departmental
needs but reaches out to other vital agency partners in the
State including the State Bureau of Investigation, Division of
Emergency Management, Department of Health and Human Services,
Department of Environment and Natural Resources as well as
industry to provide a common operational picture for the State.
Under the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 that
directed states to develop a State Hazard Mitigation Plan,
North Carolina is the only state in the nation to include
infectious disease in the list of known and mitigatable hazards
such as floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes. The plan was
written and submitted in full partnership with the Department
of Health and Human Services and categorizes diseases by route
of transmission. This makes North Carolina eligible to receive
funding to mitigate a future infectious disease to prevent a
large-scale, economically costly outbreak.
We have hosted and participated in national level
symposiums to discuss environmentally, socially, and industry
acceptable methodologies of mass euthanasia and carcass
disposal that could be utilized in a large-scale livestock
disease eradication program. Concurrently, we are working on
alternative disease control strategies to eliminate the need
for such drastic methods of disease control.
Securing agriculture presents unique challenges. I respectfully
submit to you the following recommendations which augment those made in
the testimony of Mr. David Miller before the Subcommittee on Emergency
Preparedness, Science and Technology on April 12, 2005 and Dr. Thomas
McGinn's testimony before the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee in
November 2003. I would like to preface my remarks by saying that unique
conditions exist in each state that provide an opportunity for
development of innovative preparedness, mitigation, and response
initiatives. Success will depend on identifying and enhancing these
programs at the state level through federal funding.
NCDA&CS recommends a review of current funding
allocation that is based primarily on population in favor of
formulas that more accurately reflect agricultural risk. As
high agricultural density areas are inversely proportional to
human population centers, agriculture tends to receive
inadequate preparedness support. For example, North Carolina's
Sampson County has only 1/12th the population of Mecklenburg
County, but generates nearly 5 times the farming cash
receipts.12,13 Sampson County receives little
homeland security funding, and yet is one of the most
agriculturally productive regions in the world.
In the same way that the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC) has funneled bioterrorism funding for
state departments of health and human services, funding for
state departments of agriculture also needs to have a dedicated
funding stream with a mandate of preparedness. According to the
Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO), more than 80
percent of the food safety and security activities including
inspections, investigation of foodborne illnesses and consumer
complaints, enforcement actions, and response to emergencies
involving food products are performed at the state or local
levels in the US.\14\ State personnel, therefore, are in the
ideal position to provide the food producing sector with
outreach information, food defense strategies, and serve as the
key link between the food production system and law
enforcement. Unfortunately, out of $960 million federal
counterterrorism funding given to states in 2003, 4.5 percent
went to plant and animal disease initiatives while a mere 0.4
percent was devoted to protecting all other elements of the
food supply.\15\ Federal funding must reflect additional
demands for food defense.
We support the creation of a national consumer
complaint system to facilitate information sharing and
coordination among state and local agencies involved in food
safety and defense. This would enable timely, sector-specific,
yet nationwide notification of food producers, processors, and
inspectors of attacks on the food supply to facilitate
intervention and expanded surveillance actions.
We need to take one of the most severe agro-terrorism
diseases off the table by reducing the consequences of an FMD
epidemic. The only thing more daunting than FMD itself is our
nation's planned response to an outbreak which includes
euthanizing millions of animals based on the UK experience of
2001. Current disease control policy provides little incentive
for farmers to proactively remain disease free. A producer
whose animals are infected with FMD receives reimbursement by
the federal government for the loss of his stock. However, a
farmer with healthy animals receives no compensation, yet he
faces a likely state-wide quarantine that prevents him from
marketing his meat or milk product while still incurring the
expense of feeding and caring for his livestock. Therefore,
farmers that maintain disease free animals may encounter an
economic situation more dire than those with infected
We request the creation of a multi-agency taskforce with decision
authority to embrace modern technology for diagnosis, surveillance, and
vaccination as well as address policy issues that prevent the
implementation of a modern disease control program. These issues,
including the need for ``cow-side'' testing were highlighted in the
recent GAO report on protecting agriculture.\16\
Disease simulations, as well as national and
international disease outbreaks, have shown that laboratory
capacity can be a limiting factor in disease control. While we
fully support strengthening the national laboratory system
through initiatives such as the National Animal Health
Laboratory Network (NAHLN), Laboratory Response Network (LRN),
and upgrades to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in
Ames, Iowa, equal considerations should also be given to state
agriculture laboratory facilities which routinely service their
crop, food, and livestock industries. State laboratories will
be the first line of defense and must provide needed surge
capacity should an outbreak occur.
We strongly urge the continued support of state based
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) initiatives. GIS allows
the mapping of production facilities, production plants, and
retail establishments to quickly assess the scale of the
incident, determine populations at risk, and appropriate the
required resources during an incident response. State GIS
allows us to leverage our close relationships with stakeholders
in agriculture production, processing, transport, and retail to
obtain validated data which is available for federal response
We request a formal review of procedures and protocols
for movement of animals through United States Postal Service
facilities taking into consideration the findings of the END
project and the implications of unregulated shipments on public
health and the spread of agricultural diseases.
Lastly, we request support for the North Carolina Food
and Agriculture Defense Project which strives to develop, in
partnership with sector specific industries, detailed
mitigation, response, and recovery plans and incorporate new
technologies designed to reduce the overall effects and impact
from any terrorist act targeting the State's food supply. We
need a state program, supported by a national policy
environment, to assess the vulnerabilities of the food chain
using a nationally recognized model. Information gathered from
these assessments will be appropriately shared with USDA or FDA
to be used in the refinement of templates for state specific
Through my testimony today, I hope to have effectively described
North Carolina's progrsive stance in addressing agro-terrorist threats.
North Carolina understands emergency response issues, but we are
anxious at how much remains to be done in our State and the rest of the
nation. States have the relationships and share the geographical space
necessary to develop the required programs to safeguard our food
industries. We have developed a culture of food safety since 1906 with
the enactment of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. We have yet
to develop a food defense culture.
We appreciate the opportunity to address the challenges ahead. I
look forward to answering any questions you may have regarding my
LIST OF REFERENCES
1. North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
[NCDA&CS], Agricultural Statistics Division. ``How North Carolina
Agriculture Compares With Other States 2004 Production.'' Available at:
May 11, 2005.
2. Hayes, Craig. North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer
Services [NCDA&CS], Agricultural Statistics Division. Personal
Communication. Received May 9, 2005.
3. Monke, Jim. Congressional Research Services [CRS]. Agro-terrorism:
Threats and Preparedness Updated February 4, 2005. February 2005.
4. McGinn, Tom and Colonel John Hoffinan. North Carolina Department of
Agriculture and Consumer Services [NCDA&CS], Emergency Programs
Division. ``Crimson Sky FMD Terrorist Attack Outcome.'' Presented
5. United States General Accounting Office [GAO). Foot and Mouth
Disease: To Protect US Livestock, USDA Must Remain Vigilant and Resolve
Outstanding Issues. GAO-02-0808: July 2002.
6. United States Department of Agriculture [USDA] Foreign Agricultural
Service. Taiwan Livestock and Products OIE Accepted Taiwan's FMD-Free
with Vaccination Status 2003. July 2003.
7. North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
[NCDA&CS]. ''North Carolina Exotic Newcastle Disease Final Report Phase
1.'' Submitted to North Carolina Council of State. February 2004.
8. North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
[NCDA&CS], North Carolina Exotic Newcastle Disease Project 2003,
Investigation of Bird Container Movement. Appendix B is maintained in
the Committee's file.
9. North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
[NCDA&CS], Agricultural Statistics Division. ``Farm Income: Cash
Receipts From Farming By Commodity, North Carolina, 2000-2003.''
Available at: http://www.ncagr.com/stats/cashrcpt/cshcomyr.htm.
Accessed May 12, 2005.
10. U.S. Food and Drug Administration [FDA). ``An Introduction to Food
Security and AwarenessCourse (FS25IA).'' Available at: http://
www.compliancewire.com. Accessed May 11, 2005.
11. ABC News. ``Thompson Resigns from Bush' s Cabinet. `` Available at:
http://abcnews.go.com/politics/wirestory?id=301259. Accessed May 11,
12. NC State University Agricultural and Resource Economics. ``County
Agribusiness Values.'' Available at: http://www.ag--econ.ncsu.edu/
faculty/walden/counties.htm. Accessed May 11, 2005.
13. U.S. Census Bureau. ``Census 2000 Redistricting Data (Public 94-
File Geographic Area: North Carolina--County.'' Available at:
2S&--lang=en. Accessed May 11, 2005.
14. Association of Food and Drug Officials [AFDO]. ``The Association of
Food and Drug Officials Comments to the U.S. House of Representatives
Energy and Commerce Committee.'' Available at: http://www.afdo.org/
afdo/position/bt.cfm. Accessed May 12, 2005.
15. Association of Food and Drug Officials [AFDO]. ``AFDO Position on
Protecting the Food and Agriculture Infrastructure. Appendix A.
16. United States General Accounting Office [GAO). Homeland Security:
Much Is Being Done to Protect Agriculture from a Terrorist Attack, but
Important Challenges Remain. GAO-05-214: March 2005.
[GRAPHICS NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]
Mr. Simmons. Thank you very much for that testimony. Before
we get into questions, we will ask Dr. Casagrande to provide
You will notice we have a 5-minute clock. We are a little
liberal with that, which is fine, but feel free to summarize
parts of your testimony if it is extensive.
STATEMENT OF ROCCO CASAGRANDE, MANAGING DIRECTOR, GRYPHON
Mr. Casagrande. Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman and members of
the committee. I greatly appreciate the chance to appear before
you today to offer my testimony on the nature of the threat to
U.S. agriculture. The threat to U.S. agriculture is primarily
economic. Agriculture disease agents intentionally spread
amongst crops or livestock in the U.S. have the potential to
cause billions of dollars of damage to the U.S. economy.
These losses will be incurred from disease control costs
and associated reductions in tourism, food processing,
transportation and trade. It is my opinion that U.S.
agriculture is threatened by a wide variety of actors, from
States and economic competition with the United States to
fringe animal rights groups to lone criminals, to Al-Qa`ida.
The variety of a threat of an attack on the U.S.
agriculture system is borne out of two main factors. One the
technological barriers to an attack are easily surmountable by
even technically unsophisticated actors; and, two, an attack on
agriculture would help fulfill the goals of many State and
Let me begin by commenting on the first factor, that the
technological barriers to an attack are easily surmountable.
Influencing this factor is the nature of the disease agents
themselves, the pathogens, that may be used in an attack on
agriculture. The pathogens that are most dangerous to U.S.
agriculture are those contagious agents that can spread
explosively in a herd or between farms.
The simple direct exposure of animals or plants to infected
material--such as a tainted cloth dropped into an animal pen or
handfuls of infected plant material thrown into fields--may
begin an outbreak that affects thousands to millions of animals
or acres or crops. Further facilitating the use of agriculture
pathogens is the fact that they are easily handled by even
technically unsophisticated actors. First of all, the most
contagious agents do not cause significant disease in humans,
enabling the manipulation of the agent in rudimentary
facilities, such as basements or farms.
Once smuggled into the country, enough agent could be
manufactured for an attack by the intentional infection by
plant cuttings or captive animals. These living factories could
produce kilograms of infected material that could then be
introduced into fields or pens all over the United States.
Unfortunately, pathogens of this kind are not particularly
rare. Foot and mouth disease, Rinderpest, Newcastle Disease,
African Swine Fever, wheat smut and rice blast few of the
diseases that could be used and have all of the qualities
described above. These pathogens are endemic to the developing
word, and an adversary need only find disease outbreaks to find
the source of their agent. It is not only the nature of the
dangerous agricultural pathogens, but also the nature of modern
agriculture systems that facilitates an attack.
Modern U.S. agriculture is vast, mobile and consolidated.
Its vastness implies that large feed lots and farms are almost
physically impossible to secure. The livestock industry is
mobile. Animals are moved between States to various facilities
that lean, fatten and finish them. This movement enables
infected animals to come in contact with thousands of other in
facilities all across the country. Also the U.S. agriculture
industry is highly consolidated an attack that affects even one
processor would affect a significant portion of the industry.
U.S. agriculture is dominated by many big businesses that
employ tens of thousands of Americans. The shares of these
businesses, the commodities they produce and the futures
derived from them comprise a significant portion of our
Because of the economic hardship that a disease outbreak
can bring, even minor outbreaks or rumors of outbreaks can
create shockwaves within the stocks and future markets, causing
the overnight loves billions of dollars in market value.
When an outbreak is identified, the system to control and
eradicate disease leads to further economic loss. Exports are
prevented to halt the spread to our trading partners. To
prevent the spread of disease within our country, agricultural
movement is halted and the transportation in agricultural areas
may be disrupted. When an outbreak is identified on a farm, the
diseased animals and all animals at risk of infection are
Taken together, these qualities of U.S. agriculture imply
that even an attack on a few animals or plants can be spread to
a significant portion of the industry quickly due to the nature
of the industry. Even if the disease does not spread far, our
disease control efforts will magnify the costs of the disease
far beyond the cost of the plants and animals directly
infected. Further, even outbreaks that are rapidly identified
and controlled can cause losses to market fluctuations. When
these qualities of U.S. agriculture are considered along with
the qualities of agricultural pathogens, a grim picture of the
technical barriers to an attack come into focus.
Because agricultural pathogens are relatively easy to find,
acquire, manipulate and use to strike thousands of animals or
plants, adversaries with little technical skill can attempt an
attack. Because of control efforts, movement restrictions and
market forces, even an attack that reaches only a single farm
may inflict damage beyond its proportions.
For these reasons, an attack on agriculture is within the
reach of any State or substate group or even an individual.
Because technical factors only widen the field of actors who
can threaten agriculture, let me turn your attention to the
second factor influencing the threat, that an attack on
agriculture is consistent with the goal of several groups.
Rival States have significant financial motivation to attack
U.S. agriculture. By initiating a disease outbreak in the U.S.,
rival States could capture our export markets.
For radical ecologist and animal rights groups, an attack
on agriculture is a means and an end. These groups loathe the
treatment of animals in U.S. farming systems and the fact that
a significant portion of our U.S. crops are genetically
modified. For these groups, an attack on agriculture is not a
means to sow economic hardship or gain profit, but to destroy
the industry that offends them. Criminals who wish to profit
from an attack on agriculture are another type of actor who may
threaten U.S. agriculture.
As stated above, significant losses may be inflicted due to
market changes. Similarly, money can be made through the
manipulation of futures markets or the short of stocks of
Lastly, terrorists bent on destroying the U.S. could use an
attack on agriculture as part of a larger campaign. Groups like
Al-Qa`ida could seek an agriculture attack as a simple means to
undercut one of our greatest economic strengths. I do not mean
to imply that an attack on agriculture is imminent.
The factors influencing the threat to agriculture have been
in place for several decades, and yet no large attack has been
executed. What can be said with some certainty-- although an
attack on agriculture may never come, natural agricultural
disease outbreaks strike the U.S. with some frequency.
Most measures that can be taken to reduce the damage of an
attack on agriculture will likely help the natural disease
outbreaks that will surely come. Investments in animal tracking
and disease control systems will surely deliver a concrete
benefit, even if the threat of an attack never materializes.
[The statement of Mr. Casagrande follows:]
Prepared Statement from Rocco Casagrande, Ph.D.
Good afternoon, Members of the Committee. I greatly appreciate the
chance to appear before you today to offer my testimony on the nature
of the threat to US agriculture.
The threat to US agriculture is primarily economic. Agricultural
disease agents, intentionally spread amongst crops or livestock in the
US, have the potential to cause billions of dollars of damage to the US
economy. These losses will be incurred from disease control costs and
associated reductions in tourism, food processing, transportation and
It is my opinion that US agriculture is threatened by a wide
variety of actors, from states in economic competition with the US, to
fringe animal rights groups, to lone criminals to Al-Qa`ida. The
variety of the threat of an attack on the US agricultural system is
born out of two main factors: 1) the technological barriers to an
attack are easily surmountable by even technically unsophisticated
actors, and 2) an attack on agriculture would help fulfill the goals of
many state and non-state actors.
Let me begin by commenting on the first factor: that the
technological barriers to an attack are easily surmountable.
Influencing this factor is the nature of the disease agents, the
pathogens, that may be used in an attack on agriculture. The pathogens
that are most dangerous to US agriculture are those contagious agents
that can spread explosively in a herd or between farms. The fact that
these pathogens are highly contagious eliminates the need of the
adversary to manufacture a complicated device to expose hundreds or
thousands of animals or plants to the pathogen during the attack. No
weaponization of the pathogen, and the complicated equipment required
for that process, is necessary. The simple direct exposure of animals
or plants to infected material (such as a tainted cloth dropped into an
animal pen or handfuls of infected plant material thrown into fields)
may begin an outbreak that affects thousands to millions of animals or
acres of crops.
Further facilitating the use of agricultural pathogens is the fact
that they are easily handled by even technically unsophisticated
actors. First of all, the most contagious agents do not cause
significant disease in humans. The fact that an adversary does not need
to protect themselves from their agent of choice obviates the need for
specialized protective equipment and facilitates manipulation of the
agent in rudimentary facilities such as basements or farms.
Furthermore, these pathogens are relatively hearty; many can survive in
isolated tissues from a plant or animal or on cloth for weeks. No
special storage conditions are required during smuggling of the agent
into the US. Lack of a requirement for special storage conditions
suggests that the agent could be smuggled in easily concealable or
disguised containers, such as wine bottles, Tupperware or, for those
agents that survive on cloth, impregnated in the clothing of the
adversary. Once smuggled into the country, enough agent can be
manufactured for an attack by the intentional infection of bins of
plant cuttings or captive animals. These living factories could produce
kilograms of infected material that could then be introduced into
fields or pens all over the US.
The nature of the pathogens that could be used on agriculture,
therefore, eliminates the need for sophisticated laboratory equipment
for the acquisition, production, processing or dissemination of the
agent. Unfortunately, pathogens of this kind are not particularly rare.
Foot and mouth disease, Rinderpest, Newcastle disease, African swine
fever, wheat smut and rice blast are just a few of the diseases that
could be used that have all of the qualities described above. These
pathogens are endemic to the developing world and an adversary need
only find disease outbreaks to find a source of their agent.
It is not only the nature of dangerous agricultural pathogens, but
also the nature of the modern agricultural system that facilitates an
attack. Modern US agriculture is vast, mobile and consolidated. Its
vastness implies that large feedlots and farms are almost impossible to
physically secure, enabling even incautious actors to gain access to
their targets. The livestock industry is mobile; animals are moved
between states to various facilities that wean, fatten and finish them.
This movement enables infected animals to come into contact with
thousands of others in facilities across the country. Also, the US
agricultural industry is highly consolidated; an attack that affects
even one processor would affect a significant portion of the industry.
US agriculture is dominated by big businesses that employ tens of
thousands of Americans. The shares of these businesses, the commodities
they produce and the futures derived from them, comprise a significant
portion of our financial markets. Because of the economic hardship that
a disease outbreak can bring, even minor outbreaks or rumors of
outbreaks can create shockwaves within stock and futures markets,
causing the overnight loss of billions of dollars in market value.
When an outbreak is identified, the system to control and eradicate
the disease leads to further economic losses. Exports are halted to
prevent the spread to our trading partners. Although our exports are
halted, the demand for the commodity does not diminish, and importing
nations will seek out other suppliers for goods the US can no longer
supply. Once the importers establish a relationship with a new
supplier, the US may find it difficult to recapture the lost markets;
therefore, economic losses can persist for many years after the
outbreak is stamped out. To prevent the spread of the disease within
the country, agricultural movement is halted and transportation in
agricultural areas may be disrupted. These movement restrictions will
affect the transportation and tourism industries and may cause farmers
unaffected by the disease to slaughter their animals due to the
inability to obtain fodder. When an outbreak is identified on a farm,
the diseased animals and all animals at risk of infection (usually all
those in the affected premises) are slaughtered. Oftentimes, those
animals at risk of infection reside at a different farm near a facility
where an infected animal was found; these animals are often killed to
create disease firebreaks.
Taken together, these qualities of US agriculture imply that even
an attack on a few animals or plants can be spread to a significant
portion of the industry quickly due to the nature of the industry. Even
if the disease does not spread far, our disease control efforts will
magnify the cost of the disease far beyond the cost of the plants or
animals directly affected. Further, even outbreaks that are rapidly
identified and controlled can cause losses due to market fluctuations.
When these qualities of US agriculture are considered along with
the qualities of agricultural pathogens, a grim picture of the
technical barriers to an attack comes into focus. Because agricultural
pathogens are relatively easy to find, acquire, manipulate and use to
strike thousands of animals or plants, adversaries with little
technical skill can attempt an attack. Because of control efforts,
movement restrictions, and market forces, even an attack that only
reaches a single farm may inflict damage beyond its proportions. For
these reasons, an attack on agriculture is within the reach of almost
any state or sub-state group, or even an individual.
Because technical factors only widen the field of actors who can
threaten agriculture, let me turn your attention to the second factor
influencing the threat--an attack on agriculture is consistent with the
goals of several groups--by addressing the motivation of several types
of adversaries in turn.
Rival states have a significant financial motivation to attack US
agriculture. By initiating a disease outbreak in the US, rival states
could capture our export markets, causing a shift of billions of
dollars a year from the US. States prosecuting a shadow war with the US
may wish to harm us economically even if they do not directly benefit.
The motivation to execute such an attack is underpinned by the
uncertainty that an attack will be distinguishable from a natural
disease outbreak. What would differentiate the accidental importation
of FMD-infected swine from China to Taiwan from the intentional
infection of swine shipped to Taiwan? Furthermore, the ambiguity of the
US response to an attack on our agriculture may embolden a state
adversary. A terrorist attack that kills Americans will surely invite
military retaliation. However, would the President risk the lives of
soldiers if a rival nation simply caused the destruction of our corn or
For radical ecological and animal rights groups, an attack on
agriculture is a means and an ends. These groups loathe the treatment
of animals in the US farming system or the fact that a significant
portion of US crops are genetically modified. To these groups, an
attack on agriculture is not a means to sew economic hardship or to
gain profit, but to destroy the industry that offends them. These
groups, and their less radical allies, have issued statements wishing
for the introduction of devastating disease into the US. The lack of
human deaths in an agricultural attack is consistent with these groups
somewhat non-violent operations.
Criminals, who wish to profit from an attack on agriculture, are
another type of actor who may threaten US agriculture. As stated above,
significant losses can be inflicted due to market changes when a
disease outbreak is discovered. Similarly, money can be made through
the manipulation of futures markets or selling-short of the stocks of
affected companies. Furthermore, the threat of an attack can be used to
blackmail agricultural interest groups and large companies. These
criminals could be acting alone (due to the facility of the execution
of an agricultural attack) or could be in a large group, such as a
company wishing to cripple a rival.
Lastly, terrorists bent on destroying the US could use an attack on
agriculture as part of a larger campaign. Groups like Al-Qa`ida could
seek an agricultural attack as a simple means to undercut one of our
greatest economic strengths.
All of these groups have the means to attack agriculture and each
group has goals that would be at satisfied such an attack, even if that
attack fails to spread to a significant portion of the targeted sector
due to the economic costs that even minor outbreaks can cause. For many
of these groups, such as countries jockeying for economic advantage and
radical ecological and animal-rights groups, no other type of attack
can satisfy their goals. To address this threat, new policies and
regulations that eliminate the ambiguity in the US response to an
attack on agriculture and that reduce our adversaries' potential
benefit from such an attack are needed.
I do not mean to imply that an attack on agriculture is imminent.
The factors influencing the threat to agriculture have been in place
for several decades and yet no large attack has been executed. It is
possible that sub-state groups use only weapons that are close at hand
and are unlikely to travel to exotic locations to acquire their agent.
It is possible that the spread of a plant or animal disease pales in
comparison to the theater caused by car bombs or other, more
conventional and common types of attacks.
What can be said with some certainty is that, although an attack on
agriculture may never come, natural agricultural disease outbreaks
strike the US with some frequency. Most measures that can be taken to
reduce the damage of an attack on agriculture will likely help in
natural disease outbreaks that have happened before and will happen
again. Investments in animal tracking systems and disease control
assets will surely deliver a concrete benefit even if an attack never
The threat to agriculture stems from two main factors: the
technological barriers to an attack are easily surmountable by the
least technically sophisticated groups and an attack on agriculture
serves the stated goals of state and non-state actors. Groups that have
the motives and the means to attack agriculture include states in
economic rivalry with the US, foreign terrorist groups, criminals and
domestic groups on the fringe of animal rights and ecological issues,
Tempering this threat assessment is that, although the vulnerability of
agriculture has existed for several decades and groups that have the
motives and means to exploit this vulnerability have existed for an
equally long time, no large attack on agriculture has occurred in the
US or elsewhere. However, steps that can be taken to prevent and attack
or mitigate its damage will also benefit the US economy when an
inevitable natural disease outbreak strikes our country.
Mr. Simmons. Thank you for those comments. My question,
first question, would go to Dr. Casagrande. You made the
statement that the threat to U.S. agriculture is primarily
economic. I guess as a casual observer, somebody reads the
paper and watches TV. I was intrigued by the case involving a
woman who found a finger in her chili. That was pretty
Ms. Lofgren. That was in my district.
Mr. Simmons. Yes. I stopped buying chili for a while after
reading that story. I expect that the chili sales probably went
down as people focused on the finger in the chili. So there was
a significant impact even though there is no evidence that
anybody was hurt.
Let me expand that example to one that occurred in my
district involving avian influenza. The largest numbers of egg-
laying chickens, I believe, are in Connecticut--and they happen
to be in my district--approximately 8 million laying helps.
They had a very suspicious outbreak of avian influenza that
occurred in a portion of a coop near an unsecured door--due to
OSHA regulations--near a wooded area. The birds had been
segregated since they had been chicks. There was no cross
fertilization, as you indicated, with new birds being
introduced in either to the flock or to the house.
So there is some suspicion of human intervention. The
policy of the Department of Agriculture was to destroy all 7
million birds. We intervened with the Department of Agriculture
and got permission for a vaccination program, which was
initiated over a year ago and was entirely successful, entirely
Now, elimination of the birds would have cost anywhere from
$80--to $100 million, not only to destroy the birds but then
you have to dispose of them in a very expensive fashion.
The vaccination program costs about $20 million. We don't
reimburse for vaccinations, so the chicken farmers had to eat
that cost. But nonetheless, this introduction of a disease into
a very small number of birds in a very large population had
huge economic impacts. That is the kind of attack that I would
Is that what you are talking about when you say the primary
threat is economic? It is not that somebody is going to be
Mr. Casagrande. Yes, Mr. Chairman, thank you for the
question. That is just one of a number of very many examples
that exist throughout history. Another recent example was
during the foot and mouth disease outbreak in the U.K. and
parts of the rest of Europe. The consumption of beef in the
U.S. actually dropped, even though foot and mouth disease does
not affect people significantly.
It was said that there was some confusion between foot and
mouth disease and mad cow disease. People watching the media
were confused as to where the outbreak was taking place and
what the risk was to the U.S. so it doesn't even need to occur
here to have economic impact.
Another example that you might be familiar with the is
Chilean grape scare, when there was some laboratory results
that may have suggested that there was some cyanide in Chilean
fruit. Well the consumption of fruit from all of South America
dropped, whether it was grapes or other type of fruit.
So even though--no one died as a result of that. Even
though the risk to an individual was extremely small, these
attacks can have a devastating economic impacts well beyond
their direct effect.
Mr. Simmons. So if, in fact, the nature of the attack is on
the food supply, but it is actually an economic attack, then
our response to it has to be precise, we have to have the
intelligence capabilities either to prevent or to assess--once
the attack occurs, and to limit the economic damage, which is
the real damage, and then to provide reassurance to the public
that their health is not at risk. Because, again, part of the
point of a terrorist attack is to change behaviors to extend
the economic impacts through fear.
Do you feel--and I know my time is almost gone. Do you feel
that in the case of you, Mr. Reardon, your State or you, Dr.
Casagrande, that the United States of America is prepared to
respond to these types of attacks?
Mr. Reardon. Partially, Mr. Chairman, I know North Carolina
has worked real hard in preparedness in some areas. However the
issue that you brought up about economic stability and right
siding that industry that may be affected by that act of
terrorism, I would say we are not prepared for. There is a lot
of work that we need to do to develop capability and capacity.
When we talk about adding--reassuring the public that that
product is safe again or that they should consume that product
again, it is going to take a lot of work by State agencies at
the local level, a lot of testing, a lot of working hand in
hand with industry to prove to the consuming public take that
product is safe to consume again. So we have got to have some
capabilities and capacities at the State level, Mr. Chairman,
we don't have today.
Mr. Casagrande. Mr. Chairman, I would like to respond, if I
may, as well. I think you made two excellent points, that one,
our protocols for responding to disease outbreaks, especially
in animals needs to be examined closely. There is an excellent
journal article published by Roger Breeze, formerly of the
USDA, where he examines our current animal disease control
policy and looks at the costs of vaccination versus culling. I
would point your attention to that article.
Your second point about public education, I think that is
vital to limit the damage, economic damage of attacks, even
ones that don't directly affect the food supply, like foot and
mouth disease, to limit the economic damage.
Mr. Simmons. I thank you both for your responses.
Now I yield time to the ranking member of the subcommittee,
Ms. Lofgren. I thank you very much. As we listen to you, it
seems that although many people have worked hard in good faith,
we have got some challenges in this arena that we may not even
fully understand yet from your testimony.
Mr. Reardon, I was interested that we might actually lack a
full understanding of our vulnerabilities. I am wondering if
you could tell us with specificity, at least some of the
elements that we are missing on that sort of vulnerability scan
in this arena.
Mr. Reardon. Thank you for the question, Congresswoman
Lofgren. I think we do lack a full understanding of the
vulnerabilities. We as a country have thought that when there
was an issue at hand, that education alone may be enough. But I
am going to suggest to the committee that we must do a complete
vulnerability study of all of the sectors of food processing
today, whether it is on the farm with livestock, whether it is
within the processing, whether it is within the storage and
then the final sale.
What we learned from the Exotic Newcastle Disease is simply
that there were things that we did not know in our
investigation that were revealed by acts of our own that may
very well contribute to a tremendous cost to our own industry.
Those kinds of vulnerabilities are there in a lot of places.
I think when you look at allocation of money and spending
that money judiciously, if you will, the best thing to do is to
do a complete vulnerability study, working with the Federal
Government, also the State government and the local government,
where we have the trust with those people that own and operate
these facilities and that own livestock.
It is our responsibility to identify what the risks are
before we start allocating moneys in a broad way. We need to
know where we are spending our money. A component to that that
we don't have at the State level--and the chairman spoke about
it--is the intelligence. We need to know what the threats are
so that when we do a vulnerability assessment of those
industries, we know what the opportunity of introduction.
Then from that, we will develop the mitigation steps to
reduce the likelihood of introduction of either a disease or a
chemical or a biological. We need to be smart at how we go
about this, but we need to go about getting it done.
Ms. Lofgren. I assume if we are doing a vulnerability study
for terrorism, the Homeland Security would have to play a lead
and then bring in other agencies that have more expertise in
agriculture. Would you both agree with that premise?
Mr. Reardon. I would answer that if I could, and then turn
it over to my companion here. I think the thing that we are
seeing is that Homeland Security has done a good job developing
the NIPP, National Infrastructure Protection Plan. They are
doing good work with the sector specific. The piece missing is
the integration of the local and State governments. We must
play--and we do play--a critical role in that piece and I would
like to see that further.
Ms. Lofgren. If I can--I am not from a rural area. I am
from Silicon Valley, but we hear that complaint from State and
local governments about everything, not just agriculture, it is
everything--I think there is some truth to that. I don't think
we are communicating that well.
I am wondering--well, I don't want to cut off Dr.
Casagrande. But I am interested, Mr. Reardon, in what you have
been told by DHS in this area. I mean, are you in the State
level given information?
Mr. Reardon. Thank you again, Congresswoman Lofgren. We are
given limited or no intelligence to our threats to agriculture.
What I am finding at the State level, and I can speak for a
variety of States, along with other boards, is that States are
leaning forward with this, we know that it is our
responsibility to protect the food supply.
However, we could be more effective judiciously and more
effective costwise if we had greater interaction with Homeland
Security and especially some line on funding. What we are
finding from State Departments of Agriculture, the people where
the rubber meets the road with food safety, we do not have a
funding source like CDC is providing to public health. So that
particular piece is missing.
Ms. Lofgren. Dr. Casagrande, you were just about to answer.
Mr. Casagrande. No problem, Madam Representative. Well, let
me reinforce the statements of Mr. Reardon that some States
have taken it upon themselves to include agriculture in their
intelligence gathering and analysis systems. Some States, to my
knowledge, like Arizona and Iowa, have included agriculture
representatives at the State level in their intelligence fusion
centers, so representatives of law enforcement and public
safety and agriculture and public health are all together in
this one center. I think that is a model that the U.S. Federal
system could learn from.
Ms. Lofgren. I have 14 seconds left, so I will yield back
the balance of my time.
Mr. Simmons. Hold those 14 seconds.
We now yield to the chairman of the full committee, Mr. Cox
Mr. Cox. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, thanks both to
your witnesses, who are both very well prepared to talk with us
about agro-terrorism today.
I think what we have heard so far is a stark illustration
of the difference between threat and vulnerability, ``threat''
being a term of art in the intelligence world meaning terrorist
capabilities, plans and intentions. Nothing that I have heard
in the testimony thus far reveals any new information about
terrorist capabilities in this area, or actual plans, or
intentions, but what I have heard is that the vulnerability is
I want to make sure that we are all on the same page and
that I am interpreting your testimony correctly. I have before
me a CRS report for Congress that is updated through February
4, 2005. The title of it is Agro-Terrorism Threats and
Preparedness. CRS is the Congressional Research Service.
According to this report, bioterrorism is mostly a
theoretical consideration. Would you both agree with that?
Mr. Casagrande. If I may answer that, Mr. Representative.
Yes. I think we have very little data on terrorist motivations
and what they want and what their plans are. If we had that
data, we would stop them. However, if we compare what we
presented as the vulnerabilities to the technical
sophistication required to exploit those vulnerabilities, we
can begin to pare down the actors that could affect us.
Then if we look at those terrorists-stated motives, we can
compare that with what can be accomplished by an attack on
agriculture and see of those remaining actors, who would want
to attack our agriculture. Beyond that, we don't have any data.
So we can't really say that these people will attack us at any
Mr. Cox. Mr. Reardon.
Mr. Reardon. Yes. Mr. Chairman, I would have to agree with
that statement is that it hedges on intelligence. From the
State perspective, a lot of times we are not in the loop, if
you will, with having that information to really summarize
exactly what the vulnerabilities are.
I think what you said, they all interact. You have got to
know what the threat is to understand what the vulnerability
is. From the State level, we don't get the State information to
really evaluate what the State vulnerabilities are.
Mr. Cox. Well, I think it is useful to parse the
vulnerabilities. Usually we want to make all of these things
available in a comprehensive analysis, but studying our
vulnerability is something we have a little more control over.
Mr. Reardon. Absolutely.
Mr. Cox. I don't want to trivialize this whole topic by
saying it is a theoretical threat at the moment, because it was
merely a theoretical threat that airplanes were going to be
used as missiles and flown into buildings.
It took some forethought to imagine that before it
happened. As we know, there was, in fact, a national
intelligence estimate prepared before 9/11 that was authored
the chairman of the National Intelligence Council, who was the
former staff director of this committee, that said that Al-
Qa`ida could fly airplanes into buildings in Washington D.C.,
exactly what happened.
It was just theory, but imagining that before it happened,
had we acted more aggressively on it, would have been a very
useful thing. So I don't mean to trivialize it at all. But we
are also trying to establish a baseline in this hearing of what
has happened so far, because we have to make trade-offs about
how we are devoting our resources and in what way.
So understanding as best we can in this open setting and
then in the classified setting that we are going to retreat to
later this afternoon, where we will get a full briefing that we
will go as deeply as we can go to the current capabilities and
intentions of terrorists, is I think the best way to start.
But if I can then leave behind us the threat piece, because
I think we have covered it. It is essentially both as a matter
of history and as a matter of taking a snapshot today, a
theoretical concern that terrorists are going to do this.
I have to say that my greatest concern is that someone, Dr.
Casagrande, with your knowledge and background and creative
insight, would ever turn to the dark side. Because then our
vulnerabilities become a big problem.
What can you tell us about indicators that we might be able
to look for that people, not you, but people who might provide
this kind of scientific expertise to terrorists, were actually
meeting up with them or that somehow this illicit commerce was
beginning where we hadn't had it before.
Mr. Casagrande. Thank you, Mr. Representative. I think,
unfortunately, due to the very low technical barriers of an
attack such as this, there doesn't need to be any specific
scientific expertise married with the will--just our
reconnaisance on our agriculture systems, where these people
should put the pathogens, what would be the most devastating by
looking at our economy and how the commodities flow.
Mr. Cox. So, for example, would someone then reading your
testimony on the Internet today get enough of a clue about
where they should go, that they could do it without a whole lot
of additional help from somebody like you?
Mr. Casagrande. No, the operational detail has been left
out, such that they wouldn't know exactly what to do.
Mr. Cox. So where would they get the operational detail?
Who could help them with that?
Mr. Casagrande. Well, by studying how our agricultural
commodities move, exactly what facilities they can gain access
to, exactly where the most animals come together and then go
across the country and how--.
Mr. Cox. In other words, open source information?
Mr. Casagrande. Absolutely.
Mr. Cox. Without the specialized training?
Mr. Casagrande. I think so, yes. One somewhat near example
is the case of Rabbit Calicivirus in New Zealand. Rabbits are
an imported animal, and they are a pest to agriculture there.
The farmers decided they wanted to spread a pathogen
amongst the rabbits to get rid of them. So these farmers,
through secret networks, were able to import the disease. Each
one was able to magnify it and spread it amongst the rabbit
population to devastate the rabbit population there. So a
similar thing could be done by equally untrained people in the
Mr. Cox. Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Simmons. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The Chair now yields
to the distinguished ranking member of the full committee, Mr.
Mr. Thompson. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Reardon, in your present position, what type of threat
information do you receive at this point?
Mr. Reardon. Congressman, I would have to tell you that I
oversee the State's food inspection program. We inspect about
9,000 facilities a year, handle 600 consumer complaints a year
and do quite a bit of work. We presently do not receive any
information regarding threats to agriculture.
Mr. Thompson. Do you think it would be wise for a system to
be devised that would provide you with that information?
Mr. Reardon. I think it is imperative that if that
information is available, that a person such as myself should
receive that information. There is a lot that I have at my
disposal at the State level as far as resources and people and
sampling capability and so forth--that as we check for a
variety of products on the market every day we look for
pesticides, pathogens--a lot of things in survey samples, other
tests and during inspections of facilities.
If we had information regarding threats to agriculture, we
could redirect some of those resources of those areas where
they may be more appropriately used. So I think there has to be
a system that shares with transparency that information with
officials such as myself at the State level.
Mr. Thompson. If the Federal Government, through the
Departments of Homeland Security, Agriculture or Health and
Human Services saw agro-terrorism as a potential threat, how--I
am trying to put the interface together with your department--
who would receive it in North Carolina now if such a threat
Mr. Reardon. There may be a couple of ways that that
information could come in. It could come into our Secretary of
Crime Control and Public Safety, which would be responsible for
the disbursement of ODP funds. It could come into an emergency
operations center that would normally handle, if you will,
hurricanes and other kinds of disasters.
But more appropriately, that information should come into
the agency that has responsibility for the area to which that
information pertains. The fewer hands that information goes
through, the more likely that it will be accurate, and that the
appropriate agency can capably react to it.
So I would suggest that in most States today, the Food and
Drug Administration commissions people at the State level, they
do background checks. They give them the ability to conduct
inspections and to collect paperwork and collect samples on
behalf of the FDA. We need some system in place that would
identify who those key people are at the State level so they
can be provided with information that could reduce or at least
allow them the opportunity to reduce the likelihood of an
Mr. Thompson. How much outreach has there been to educate
the public about reporting potential acts of agro-terrorism or
any kind of disease-borne illnesses that might be released in
Mr. Reardon. What I am seeing from a State level, and I can
speak more specifically about North Carolina, is that we did
make foot and mouth disease, Exotic Newcastle Disease, a
reportable disease to the State veterinarian. We have done a
lot of work and as recognized in several reports, North
Carolina is recognized as being one of the leading States in
being progressive and forward leaning, if you will, on those
kinds of issues. So North Carolina has really done a lot of
things to create the groundwork that we would move that
information very quickly if there was a disease in place, from
a State perspective.
Mr. Thompson. But your testimony today is that from the
Federal level, you are more or less out of the loop at this
Mr. Reardon. That is correct.
Mr. Thompson. Thank you.
I yield back, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Simmons. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from
Nevada, Mr. Gibbons.
Mr. Gibbons. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and to each
of our witnesses, first of all let me apologize for missing
your opening statements. It has been fascinating to listen to
some of your answers today. Both of you have expressed how easy
it would be to attack the U.S. agricultural base.
I guess my question is, in your view, why haven't we been
attacked in the agricultural base so far.
Mr. Reardon. Yes. I would like to respond to that, Mr.
Representative. There is a number of potential reasons. But
what we can say is--let me preface this by saying we don't
know. There are a number of reasons that could be a terrorist
attack on agriculture isn't as good theater as a truck bomb.
Mr. Gibbons. That would bring that up question, would a
terrorist attack on our agricultural base yield the kind of
threat or fear that is normally associated with a mass casualty
event? Do you think that our standard safety procedures that we
already enact through the food control mechanisms in States and
localities would help, or can help us prevent a mass casualty
Mr. Reardon. So a lot of most dangerous pathogens to
agriculture as a system, economically, don't affect people at
all. So limiting the damage of an agriculture attack is part of
a public information campaign to notify them of what their real
risk is. If the pathogen used in an attack is harmful to
people, and there is some threat through food supply or through
contact with an infected animal, then that does alter the
equation. I think also public information is still required so
that people don't overreact.
Mr. Gibbons. Might there be a risk that a terrorist group
would try to take credit for a natural-occurring disease or
something within the agriculture base versus a precipitated
Mr. Casagrande. Absolutely. A covert attack on our
agriculture could be disguised as a natural incident or the
signatures of a natural incident could be manipulated by
someone wishing to take credit for it to make it seem
To use an example that Mr. Reardon used earlier--the
introduction of foot and mouth disease into Taiwan. Supposedly
it was started by pigs that were surreptitiously imported from
China, and foot and mouth disease is partially endemic. It
would be very difficult to distinguish pigs--well intentionally
imported, but accidentally infected, from those that were
intentionally infected by Chinese agents wishing to hurt
Taiwan's economy. There would be almost no signatures.
Mr. Gibbons. Do you believe, very briefly--just a quick
answer would be very acceptable, that there is a greater threat
to the agriculture base from natural disease or a greater
threat to a precipitated terrorist attack?
Mr. Casagrande. I think natural disease has occurred--well,
I know that natural disease outbreaks have occurred many times
over the years, and there is no evidence that they will stop.
Mr. Gibbons. Let me ask you this, the 9/11 Commission which
student studied in depth terrorist attacks on this country
following the attack of September 11th, did not make any
reference per se to agro-terrorism or, on the food supply, in
their report, can which was vast, authoritative and well
I guess, two questions, why do you believe that the 9/11
Commission omitted a lot of the reference or questions about
agro-terrorism. Secondly, more importantly, what do you feel in
your heart of heart, regardless of whether its agro-terrorism
or anything else, what do you feel is or are the top threats
that we face as a Nation? Two questions.
Mr. Casagrande. Well, in my opinion, I think we can expect
more of the same that terrorists will use relatively
rudimentary themes to attack such as large vehicle bombs, guns,
shootings, that kind of thing, because that is what history has
taught us so far.
Mr. Gibbons. Okay.
Mr. Chairman, thank you very much. I yield back the balance
of my time.
Mr. Simmons. I thank the gentleman for his questions.
I turn to the gentleman from North Carolina, Mr. Etheridge.
Mr. Etheridge. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Dr. Casagrande, let me follow that one up. I think you have
indicated that, you know, you are not really sure a person can
be sure when an agro-terrorism event has taken place, nor
whether or not it is--is there any way, once it has taken
place, I guess is my question, to distinguish scientifically
whether it was intentionally done or it was by natural or by
Mr. Casagrande. Mr. Representative, there are some ways
that you could get signatures out of some types of attacks. If
the initial foci of infection, where the infections started,
were in multiple places almost simultaneously, that would argue
against it being natural.
If there are multiple infections without any connection to
previously-infected facilities, that would be another
indication that it was intentional.
However, speaking to another example that Mr. Reardon gave
earlier, the Exotic Newcastle Disease outbreak, some of that,
the control of that disease was hampered by people illegally
transporting fighting birds throughout the southwest. So that
is illicit activity that was causing new outbreaks that could
be mimicked by an intentional act.
Mr. Etheridge. Thank you. Mr. Reardon, I understanding that
every State with a significant agriculture base is different,
by and large, and a number of States have followed North
Carolina's lead in developing the response plans.
Based on your experience and working with others in a
national level in all aspects of food preparation, what can we
do at the Federal level to insure that the resources to secure
our agriculture sector are properly allocated. You alluded to
that earlier, but I will give you a chance to do it in one,
two, three, four.
Mr. Reardon. Congressman Etheridge, I really appreciate
that question. I think that there are already some vehicles in
place in low-hanging fruit, if you will, that the State
agencies today inspect a lot of facilities, they work really
hard to ensure that the food supply is safe.
If you look at some of the data that is available to us,
you know, from a State perspective, we inspect about 2.5
million facilities in the United States today. The States do
that. They actually inspect 86,000, of which are subject to FDA
inspection. They follow up on 46,000 consumer complaints a
year. In North Carolina, we follow up on 600 ourselves.
What we need to make us stronger Nation is not that FDA, if
you will, which works with us, to become bigger, what we need
is that we reinforced the relationships that we have today and
strengthened those and realized the important factor that the
States play in food safety every day.
One piece I would like to add to that is the consumer
complaint databases that is across this country today; North
Carolina, we do 600 consumer complaints a year, some might
involve food illness, food tampering, a variety of things.
There needs to be a mechanism at the Federal level that will
capture that consumer database complaints, surveillance, if you
will, and put the pieces together early--or that North Carolina
is having a bottled water complaint, so is Tennessee, so is
What we will find is the quicker we identify and recognize
something that is happening not only in our State but in other
States, the quicker we can respond. In this case we don't need
bigger FDA, we need a greater relationship with FDA.
Mr. Etheridge. Or coordination?
Mr. Reardon. Yes, sir.
Mr. Etheridge. I think you have touched on the other one to
make sure we don't duplicate at the Federal level or undermine
the State response.
Let me move to another question quickly before my time runs
out. In your testimony you spoke about the threat of the
Nation's poultry being the about unshipped birds being shipped
through the U.S. postal system. Would you like to elaborate on
that a little bit more and the risk it poses to one of the
large industries, not only in our State but in this country?
Mr. Reardon. I would very much like to talk about that
particular issue. When North Carolina initiated the assessment
for vulnerability for the opportunity, if you will, for Exotic
Newcastle Disease to come into North Carolina, I would remind
you when it came into California it cost nearly $160 million.
Some of you from California understand that. Even in the height
of that, $160 million. It only involved 22 commercial
facilities. In North Carolina today, we have 4,500.
What we saw with our assessment of what was going on with
the movement of birds in our State, during the very height of
that outbreak in California and late 2002, early 2003, we were
daily receiving birds in our State. One county north of the
quarantine area in California was coming into our United States
postal facility, being stacked on wooden crates, if you will,
or floats, fans blowing through those birds for several hours,
and then those birds dispersed through our State and sent to
In the appendices that you have, we have documented the
actual zip codes of where those birds come to and where they
were shipped to.
Mr. Reardon. I will suggest to you, even without support
data, that if any of those birds could have potentially been
exposed or had Exotic Newcastle Disease, the threat to our $2.1
billion industry in our State would surely have been elevated.
We formally do ask that that concept of moving untested,
unregulated birds through the United States Postal Service be
reviewed. Thank you.
Mr. Etheridge. Thank you. I yield back, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Simmons. Thank you for those terrific questions and the
The gentleman from Pennsylvania, Mr. Dent.
Mr. Dent. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
To follow up on Representative Gibbons' questions a little
bit, at least in my view, my State agricultural officials seem
to be pretty responsive in Pennsylvania with respect to
outbreaks of avian flu or plum pox virus, or whatever the
pathogen may be. Do you share that view, that State officials
are quite good at attempting to contain these types of
outbreaks that are naturally occurring?
Mr. Reardon. I would suggest to you, Congressman, very
passionately so. These States work hand in hand. They know
these people that own these farms. They have a daily
relationship with the associations. Absolutely, they are.
Mr. Dent. And, in your view, do you believe that may be
part of the reason why we have not seen attacks on our food
supply? That terrorists may be aware of our capabilities and
our ability to contain?
Mr. Casagrande. Mr. Representative, if I may. I wouldn't
think so, because the attack doesn't have to spread out of
control, in an out-of-control manner, in order for there to be
severe economic consequences. Merely the presence of a foreign
animal disease or a plant pathogen, a plant pest in our country
can have wide-ranging impacts not only in our trade markets but
also the stock market.
Mr. Dent. And one more question specific to the dairy
sector in my State, and many of the Northeast and New England
States have a big dairy sector. Forty percent of my ag output
is in dairy. How well are we doing in the dairy sector in this
country in terms of protecting ourselves?
Mr. Casagrande. Well, dairy actually has--it has been the
leading industry in animal tracking, especially in certain
States like Wisconsin, which has a humongous dairy market.
These groups have taken it from the beginning to make sure that
every animal has a unique identifier and they are tracked when
they move from farm to farm. That type of system will greatly
facilitate the tracking of, the disease spread, and the
containment of the spread. So dairy is one of the industries,
for that reason, that is not as vulnerable as others; but also,
because it is generally less consolidated and less large than
the beef industry. You will have smaller farms with fewer
animals than a large feed lot.
Mr. Reardon. And if I may, I would like to follow up on
that. In North Carolina, we could not be prouder of our dairy
association, their leadership and forward thinking. They have
taken many steps today to reduce the likelihood of tampering
with their product and movement, production, and distribution.
We could not be prouder of that industry.
Having said that, though, I did participate in a tabletop
exercise, and this really draws to the Chairman's statement
earlier on in which we assimilated a potentially contaminated
fluid product and how we would get that product off the market
and how we would restore consumer confidence. But the answer
from the retailer was: We will just simply remove that product
from market and won't offer it again.
And it was quite alarming when I know that person that
owned that large dairy plant and all the different people that
work in that plant that depend on it in their communities and
their financial support coming from that plant. And that is
something that we are going to really need to work on is how do
we handle the recovery of getting that company up and going
again and back doing business. So there are many dimensions to
Mr. Dent. Thank you.
Mr. Simmons. I thank the gentleman for his questions. And
the comment goes right to the issue that I raised, and I would
like to make another comment about it. But first I like would
to recognize the distinguished gentleman from Rhode Island, Mr.
Mr. Langevin. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to thank you
gentlemen for both being here. I eat a lot of microwave
dinners, and they are tasting better and better every day.
But Dr. Casagrande, if I can begin with you. As Chairman
Simmons noted earlier, former HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson
stated that, ``For the life of me, I cannot understand why
terrorists have not attacked the food supply, because it is so
easy to do.'' Now, as Secretary, he would have had access to
the most sensitive information about threats to our food
So if you could, just in general terms without being
specific, in your judgment, what stage of the food production
process presents the greatest agro-terror threat that is the
most vulnerable? And how would you prioritize the level of
threat among the remaining stages of the food production
Mr. Casagrande. Thank you, Mr. Representative, for that
question. If we are looking at tampering with food as opposed
to attacking agriculture, animals, or plants in the field to
cause economic damage, I would say the biggest vulnerabilities
lie in products that are produced in bulk and then shipped
across the country, especially at points in that production
that is after processing methods that would kill bacteria or
viruses such as pasteurization and cooking.
If someone could tamper with the packaging line of an ice
cream plant, for instance, after all the materials are
pasteurized or treated, if they are, then that would be an area
Mr. Langevin. Thank you.
And Mr. Reardon, to your knowledge, at what point would an
entity like the Department of Homeland Security or the Federal
Bureau of Investigation become involved after, for example, if
foot and mouth disease or some other type of outbreak were to
occur? And have you at the State level received any briefings
or guidance from DHS or the FBI in the agro-terrorism area?
And, again without getting the specifics, if so, then what is
the nature of that guidance and information that you have
Mr. Reardon. Thank you, Congressman Langevin.
To answer the second part of the question first, and I
testified earlier that we haven't received--my particular
division that oversees the food inspection program in North
Carolina--any information from Homeland Security regarding any
potential threat. However, we would welcome the opportunity to
receive in an official capacity that kind of information.
Mr. Langevin. So neither information nor any contact with
Mr. Reardon. We have had contact with DHS. We were just up
here a few months ago presenting a proposal to do some work for
them to identify such a specific vulnerability work. We think
North Carolina leading forward is a great State to do some of
the vulnerability work that can be used as a national template.
Having said that, though, we have not received any
information at the State level regarding any particular known
threat to a food product.
Mr. Langevin. Mr. Chairman, that goes back to our real need
for a threat and vulnerability assessment, and certainly
protecting our food supply has to be a major part of that
So thank you, gentlemen, for your testimony. I yield back.
Mr. Simmons. I concur with the gentleman's recommendation.
And that is something that perhaps Mr. Etheridge and other
members would like to pursue a little bit on behalf of the
Mr. Etheridge. We would. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, very much
Mr. Simmons. Thank you for offering to do that.
I would like to get back briefly to the bird market issue.
It is my understanding that poultry farmers in America today,
whether they are raising broilers or layers, are very careful
to segregate those birds, very large populations of those
birds, and to track them as best as they can, and that usually
they arrive in the form of birds or chicks, and then they are
segregated throughout most if not all of their remaining lives.
But there are occasions where birds that are purchased
through bird markets in urban areas, or older birds who are
shipped through the mail, can be exposed to other birds. And if
we take the anthrax example--people remember 9/11; they often
forget that there was an anthrax attack following 9/11. We
still don't know all the details about it, but the postal
service was used as a delivery means. The postal service was
used as a delivery means. And what you have pointed out is that
the postal service is a delivery means for agricultural animals
as well. And under certain conditions, I suspect contaminated
birds could be put through that system and spread that disease.
Is that a legitimate threat scenario?
Mr. Reardon. I think your summary, Mr. Chairman, is right
on the money. To give you some idea, in just those 8 days we
were there before we were asked to leave and not come back, we
identified eight cases of wild turkeys coming into North
Carolina. We spent millions of dollars in our State in the
restoration, if you will, of our wild turkeys and are quite
proud of what we have.
It was obvious in the way they were packed that they were
intended to be released. Those birds had no testing information
at all copying those birds. We had 14 cases of ducks. We had 14
cases of quails and geese and guineas and such as that.
However, we had 50 cases of fighting cock birds that were
coming into North Carolina. And what I will suggest to this
committee is that a risk or a vulnerability in most cases is
not a single dimensional issue; it is omnidimensional. And so
if you have those birds coming into your State but they are
going to a group of people who work primarily in our commercial
poultry facilities, you have taken a static risk, and now you
have elevated that risk.
What we found in the information we gathered is not that we
had a single dimensional risk that the birds are coming into
the State without testing. That absolutely is an issue. We even
found that they were going to people that were most likely
working in our commercial facilities. So, in essence, they were
in proximity to untested birds on the days that they would work
with our commercial flocks. Although we weren't able to trace
those birds to deliberately determine that, we could see that
there was a trend in that neighborhood. And so most risk that
you will uncover of vulnerability will be multidimensional. And
there may be pieces that we didn't even uncover.
But to answer your question, yes, sir.
Mr. Simmons. I appreciate that response.
I have one additional question for Dr. Casagrande. You
spent a substantial period of time in Iraq, and I won't ask you
the $64,000 question about Iraq. We will pass over that for the
time being. It is my understanding from the same CRS report
that the Chairman referred to that at least nine countries in
the 20th century had agricultural bioweapons programs: Canada,
France, Germany, Iraq, Japan, South Africa, United Kingdom,
United States, and the former USSR. And that four other
countries are believed to have agriculture bioweapons programs:
Egypt, North Korea, Rhodesia, and Syria.
Let me focus on Iraq, North Korea, and Syria a little bit.
One of the concerns we have at a strategic level is that
sovereign States, or what are sometimes referred to as rogue
States, may have national programs to develop weapons that then
can be passed to others to use in terrorist attacks against the
United States, western Europe, or other democracies around the
In your experience in Iraq and in your experience in
dealing with these issues in the past, do you have any concerns
about any of these countries passing weapons or technologies to
Mr. Casagrande. That is a very interesting question, Mr.
Chairman. If you look at the history of State programs in
biological warfare against crops or livestock, I personally
think it is not particularly instructive to the terrorist case.
The reason for that is most State programs focused on
decimating the food supply of their rival, especially if that
food supply was dependent on one staple crop.
An excellent example was from the U.S. offensive program
when we had one in the 1950s and 1960s where we targeted the
Chinese rice crop, because at the time it was estimated that
causing massive famine by targeting rice would be a more
efficient way of degrading their military capabilities than
nuclear weapons even.
With that in mind, the U.S. is not a very good target
because our food supply is very diverse and very plentiful.
Now, however, in the modern era where we are not looking at
open warfare between rival States, especially against the
United States because the retribution would be too devastating,
that is when you look at the smaller covert attacks to sow
economic damage, to undermine our primary strength in the
world, which is economic. And in those cases, States can be
very threatening to us.
Now, as far as passing technology on to terrorists, I would
say it is not particularly necessary, and that is because it
is--as we have stated, it is very easy to do and there are very
few technological barriers that a State could surpass that one
educated individual or a small group could not.
Mr. Simmons. Thank you very much for that response.
It is my understanding that we will be called for votes
between 3:30 and 3:40 this afternoon. We obviously want to
recess and go over to the secure facility to complete the
hearing. I guess it is my thought that, if any of the other
members have questions that they want to ask for the record, I
would be happy to recognize them until we hear the bell. Then
we go vote, and then we go to the secure facility if that is
agreeable. Are there any other members who wish to be
Ms. Lofgren. I would defer to Mr. Etheridge.
Mr. Simmons. Mr. Etheridge. Yes.
Mr. Etheridge. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Very briefly. I
believe my good friend from Nevada, Mr. Gibbons, raised a
question about whether or not Al-Qa`ida had--the terrorists had
paid any attention to the Commission. And Dr. Casagrande, I
would ask you on this one, because as I remember from the 9/11
Commission Report, they may not have brought it up, but we do
know that Al-Qa`ida, in terms of the documents that were
collected, is known to have had studied our agricultural
industry, and that our forces, the U.S. forces, found hundreds
of pages of information about our agricultural and livestock
industry that was translated into Arabic as part of the
terrorist training manuals. Is that your understanding?
Mr. Casagrande. Mr. Representative, that is my
understanding as well. And also to magnify that, Al-Qa`ida has
stated many times that it is their duty to undermine the
economy of the United States as part of a larger offensive.
Mr. Etheridge. I only raise that question, Mr. Chairman,
just so we make sure to have it on the record, because I think
as we look at it, that needs to be a part of it, I think, as we
are looking at our overall assessment of vulnerabilities and
security of this country. The truth is everything is at risk, I
think, when we get to that.
Thank you. And I yield back.
Mr. Simmons. Do any other members wish to be recognized?
Ms. Lofgren. Mr. Chairman, just a quick question. I think
this has been a helpful hearing, and it has certainly outlined
the challenges and issues for us. One of the things we haven't
talked about, really, is the importation of material from
outside the United States. And it is not really the focus of
the hearing. But as I was listening to the economic damage, I
was recalling my days in local government when I actually did
have some agriculture I represented, including the flower
growers. And there was just a devastating fungus that actually
was imported from South America that had, I mean, millions of
dollars in damage. And that was directly imported flower stock
that was not adequately inspected.
I am wondering if there is an issue there that we also need
to focus on, not in terms, obviously, of flowers, but other
kinds of--animals, I think, get a little bit more inspection
than plant goods in terms of the economic impact. Are we
overlooking that issue here today?
Mr. Casagrande. I don't think so. I mean, I think that is
where the vulnerability stems from. The most damaging pathogens
are not endemic to the United States; they are coming from
Now, if they were intentionally imported, and as I go into
in the full testimony, there could be simple ways of doing
that. However, unintentionally, pathogens can enter the United
States in some tourist's baggage who wants to take home fresh
sausage or fresh plants, fruits, or vegetables in some
instance. And I think that is why the USDA must remain vigilant
and has remained vigilant at our ports of entry to prevent the
accidental importation of something very dangerous.
Ms. Lofgren. Mr. Reardon.
Mr. Reardon. Yes. I would like to add to that just this
week a personal a experience. I had contact from one of my
neighboring States regarding a product that was being imported
from Africa. It had aflatoxin in it at the level of 800 parts
per billion. The legal limit for the United States is 20 on
peanut butter. Can you imagine that? I didn't look at the
toxicological aspects. Two days later I received a report from
Kenya of people dying from aflatoxin poisoning in Africa.
So what it said to me is that those products passed through
to customs of FDA and were being distributed here in the United
States. What was surprising to me is that the distributor of
that product was located in North Carolina, and I had to hear
it from someone in Virginia without FDA ever being involved. We
can do better than that. But what it says is that there are a
lot of products coming into this country that we are not
testing, that we don't have oversight for. And when you look at
aflatoxin at 800 parts per billion in those kind of products,
we need a safety net.
Ms. Lofgren. Most of what comes in is not inspected.
Mr. Reardon. Is not inspected. That is correct.
Ms. Lofgren. And that is the concern: How do you get that
level of protection without destroying the commerce that is
necessary? And I don't know what the answer is.
Mr. Reardon. One of the things that I alluded to earlier,
and I would suggest to the Chairman again, is that we need to
develop at the Federal level a way to capture the consumer
complaint information across all the States. When you look at
the amount of work that is done as far as consumer complaints,
on an average scale the Nation's State inspectors handle about
46,000. In our State, we handle 600. We may share information
with FDA on 5 of those 600 if we think it is truly significant.
But I think it would serve this country well to create a
national database so that we can look at syndromic data from
across this country and not just encapsulate that data in each
State. So there is much work to do on that, but I think that is
a great starting point.
Ms. Lofgren. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Simmons. Thank you for those questions. The gentleman
Mr. Gibbons. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. And to our
witnesses, both of you, thank you very much for your time and
presence here today and the information you have shared with
It seems to me that we oftentimes focus on terrorist groups
known as Al-Qa`ida. What is--or is there a threat from non-Al-
Qa`ida terrorist threats; for example, Earth Liberation Front,
to our agricultural industry today? Is there a threat? And how
do you perceive that?
Mr. Casagrande. Mr. Representative, I agree. I think Al-
Qa`ida is actually just one of a few groups that have the
motivation and the means to attack agricultural. One of the
reasons why I am surprised an attack hasn't happened yet is
because the vulnerabilities have existed over the past several
decades; they are only getting more acute, but they have
existed. And the profit motive that could be there to attack
agriculture from criminals, not terrorists, but people just
wishing to make a buck has been there for a very long time as
So criminals, I think, is one group. And groups like you
said, radical environmentalists who are opposed to genetically
modified crops, for instance. Most of the corn we have in the
country is genetically modified, a lot of the soybeans; they
have a psychic need to attack agriculture because their attack
is not only a means to an ends but an end in itself. It gets
rid of what offends them.
Mr. Gibbons. Let me ask the final question. Does the U.S.
Government possess the tools to detect, interdict, and to stop
attacks that we can't envision through our assessment of
vulnerability today? Do we have the tools?
Mr. Reardon. Congressman, I would suggest to you that, yes,
we have the tools within the United States, but they have got
to be properly utilized and developed. What we need at each
State level is greater development for response capability.
We in North Carolina have a crisis response team that is
trained in incident command structure that will be stood up in
the event of a food issue. We need that kind of capability in
all States. We need the resources to provide infrastructure
development at the State level. We need greater resources to
provide capacity testing for known pathogens and chemical
agents at the State level. We know that from a State
perspective we will in some cases be involved with an issue
potentially, and not even aware early on that we are involved
with that particular issue.
So there is much work to do to get us in a position that we
can detect, remove, and right-side an industry. So this is
going to be a long path for the food industry.
I will say one thing. We have worked since 1906 to develop
a food safety culture. We are just beginning to embrace the
definition of a food defense culture. It could be as simple as
a return goods policy at a small convenience store where a
product would be put back on the shelf by someone wishing to do
us harm, whether they are an exotic terrorist or someone within
our own country you just alluded to.
So we have got to develop, have the resources at the State
level so that we can work with our food industry to say, you
know that person bringing that product back to the store? Here
is the reasons you wouldn't want to return it to your shelf.
You no longer can take goods back into your store that went
back the door.
That flies in the face maybe of some policies of smaller
stores today. There is a mechanism to actually provide that
funding with FDA and States, and that is through contract work.
We need more money coming from FDA and the food inspection to
State agriculture departments, where the rubber meets the road,
to conduct these kind of food defense inspections and provide
this defense strategy.
Mr. Gibbons. Well, I think there is an issue here about how
much the Federal Government's responsibility encompasses or
encapsulates the State's responsibility as well as to provide
those resources and provide that technology in each State,
since each State has somewhat different requirements.
I know my State of Nevada has a vastly different
requirement than the State of North Carolina. I would think it
to be the responsibility of Nevada to develop and encourage its
own food safety programs, its own food safety technology, based
on what it sees coming in as the threat to the State of Nevada.
Mr. Reardon. Congressman, I would agree with you in one
sense. But I might add to you that because this is a national
issue, if we have a contaminated product in Virginia, it may
influence the product sold in Nevada. If we have one in North
Carolina, it has a national issue to this. So I think there has
to be Federal guidance in this, and working hand in hand with
the States to develop this.
Mr. Gibbons. I think we can do that, and I think there is
an opportunity for us to work together to find those common
grounds. But I think we cannot escape the idea, either, that
States have an obligation within this. It is not just an FDA,
Federal, rule or role. So I just want to make sure that our
point is clear: We want to work together, we want to find
solutions that are common that can be applied universally.
Mr. Reardon. Absolutely.
Mr. Gibbons. But not everything in the world can be funded
by the Federal Government.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Simmons. I thank the gentleman for his remarks. Do any
other members of the committee have questions to ask on the
record at this time?
Hearing none, I want to thank both witnesses for their
valuable testimony. Clearly, you bring many years of practical
experience to the question. We appreciate that very much.
Members of the committee may have some additional questions
for the witnesses; and if we do, we will submit them in writing
and ask for a written response. The hearing record will be held
open for 10 days.
I would like to remind members that we will adjourn and be
prepared to vote, at which point we will then go to the
committee SCIF for the classified portion of this hearing. I am
particularly interested in what I have learned today about the
economic impact of terrorist attacks on agriculture. It is not
really a question of poisoning this person or poisoning that
person. It is really a question of bringing us down through
I think it is fascinating that we have had a food safety
system in place since 1906, and now we are putting on a
different thinking cap; it is called a food security thinking
cap. I am sure there are overlaps between the two, and I hope
that we can take advantage of those overlaps so that we don't
reinvent the wheel. Information sharing has come out clearly as
something that we need more of, whether it is among States or
between the States and the Federal Government, and that
certainly comes within the jurisdiction of this subcommittee.
And let me just leave everybody with this thought. The 9/11
Commission reminded us that our Intelligence Community on 9/11
suffered from a, quote, ``failure of imagination,'' unquote.
The fact that we have not seen these things in the past or even
in the recent past doesn't mean that they are not being
considered and that they won't happen. And we take it upon
ourselves as part of our responsibility not to be involved in
another failure of imagination. And we thank you for your
participation in this process.
Thank you very much. And we now stand adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 3:38 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.]