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A Science-Based Training Program to Enhance Capacity in Food and Agricultural Bio-Security


<OL> <LI> Develop a multidisciplinary agro-terrorism training program for college students, faculty, extension agents and agricultural industry groups <LI> Provide hands-on training in counter agro-terrorism skills to college students<LI> Introduce agro-terrorism response skills to middle and high school science and agricultural teachers <LI> Develop and manage public accessible online information resource center for counter agro-terrorism measures.

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NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: Agro-terrorism has become a real and significant threat to the safety and security of the US food supply. An agro-terrorism attack directed against the US food supply can result in enormous financial costs and could easily disrupt world food supply. The purpose of this project is to introduce students, teachers, and agricultural professionals to major issues pertaining to agro-terrorism. <p>Experts on agro-terrorism drawn from across the nation will train these target groups in appropriate counter-terrorism measures to ensure the safety and security of our food supply. This proactive approach to agro-terrorism will have an immediate and future impact in reducing the likelihood of widespread terroristic activities affecting our food supply and the environment, as well as expenses for addressing the situation in case of an actual event.
APPROACH: The primary goal of this project is to develop a multidisciplinary agro-terrorism training program at Tennessee State University (TSU) that will provide students, teachers, and agricultural professionals with comprehensive introduction to major issues in agro-terrorism. Through this program, appropriate counter-terrorism measures to ensure the safety of our food supply will be addressed. Guest instructors and TSU scientists with expertise in Food and Agricultural bio-terrorism awareness and response will train participants. Instructional and discussion sessions will include: the understanding of vulnerabilities of the American food supply, current counter-terrorism measures adopted by government, academic and industry, government regulation and compensation to farmers on reporting agro-terrorist incidence, basic animal and plant disease symptoms detection, food safety and security measures, and bio-defense and detection technologies. Participants will also be trained on the application of geographic information system (GIS) to identify livestock handling and processing facilities, access routes, and to provide understanding of the surrounding human population structure. Students will participate in agro-security research projects that include: innovation in rapid detection of food-borne pathogens, development of protein markers for the effective detection of complete inactivation of transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease), transformation of farm crops such as potatoes and tomatoes for resistance to bacterial wilt disease, and the management practices to prevent the outbreak of zoonotic diseases. <p>Students will also be trained the application of GIS for agro-security. High and middle school teachers will be provided with the training necessary to incorporate food and agricultural bio-terrorism awareness and response into their agricultural courses. For counter agro-terrorism training, workshops will be arranged to provide hands-on experience for middle and high school teachers in diagnostic techniques. Basic understanding of food system vulnerabilities, current measures, regulations, incidence and food security issues will also be delivered. <p>A comprehensive web site on agro-terrorism will be developed for the project. It will serve as the repository for handouts, laboratory experiential learning exercises, project progress reports, calendar of events and other materials relevant to the project dissemination. The web page will be linked to TSU's web site and other major sources of information related to agro-terrorism such as the department of Homeland Security, the ANSER Institute for Homeland Security and the Center for Biosecurity at University of Pittsburg Medical Center.

Nahashon, Samuel
Tennessee State University
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