US Crops And Animals
Vulnerable To Bio Warfare
By Randy Fabi

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States lacks the technology to adequately defend its food supply if attacked by biological warfare, government officials told a Senate Armed Services subcommittee on Wednesday.
"There is tremendous potential for surprise here and it's entirely possible that a biological event could occur without us knowing it because we don't really have the tools in place to detect (bioterrorism)," said U.S. Department of Agriculture administrator Floyd Horn.
In more than a dozen countries, including Russia, Iraq and North Korea, the intelligence community has discovered that scientists have made it possible to use as weapons a range of agricultural biological warfare agents including crop and livestock diseases such as wheat stem rust, rice blast, rinderpest and anthrax.
At least 10 biological warfare agents that could be used against agriculture have been identified by federal agencies.
"I am concerned that Russian scientists, many of whom are unemployed or have not been paid regularly, may be recruited by states such as Iran and Iraq or individuals who are trying to establish their own BW programs," said Senator Pat Roberts, Kansas Republican and chairman of the subcommittee.
As recently as this week, seed companies and researchers at universities and the Agriculture Department braced for possible attacks after receiving anonymous threats.
"In terms of a foreign terrorist threat, there is significant information ... suggesting an attempt to attack agriculture at some point in time," Horn said. "But, we do not have any strong evidence of such an attack at the moment."
U.S. armed forces have special forces trained for biological warfare, such as Chemical Biological Incident Response Force of the Marine Corps and the U.S. Army's Technical Escort Unit.
However, Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary Robert Newberry said these forces are trained primarily for biological threats to humans and not agriculture.
Representatives from the Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation also testified in front of the subcommittee in a closed-door session.