Humanitarian Resource Institute:  A U.S. & International Resource on the Scope of Humanitarian Assistance

January 16, 2002

Stephen M. Apatow
Director of Research and Development 
Humanitarian Resource Institute Biodefense Reference Library
Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Disease Center
Eastern USA: (203) 668-0282   Western USA: (775) 884-4680


Agriculture represents one of Americaís critical infrastructures that require a domestic preparedness program to protect an industry worth hundreds of billions of dollars that directly or indirectly employs millions of people. 

Though significant progress has been made since the September 11 attacks, concerns remain regarding the deliberate introduction of a Foreign Animal Disease (FAD) in multiple locations and/or with multiple pathogens that could potentially overwhelm an emergency response system.  In the context of this assessment, it is crucial that solid contingency plans are established that encompass the capacity to handle any threat against the U.S. food and agricultural system.  To accomplish this objective, veterinary and scientific experts have presented the following priority issues: 

1. The immediate need for Foreign Animal Disease training in schools and colleges of veterinary medicine and continuing education programs for veterinarians in the field. The lack of emphasis in training for the recognition of FAD's has compromised the capacity of many field veterinarians to recognize the diseases that were once a scourge of livestock and which initially led to the development of the profession itself. [1] This serious need has prompted the recent development of the Humanitarian Resource Institute Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Disease Center, which provides access to online educational resources for both medical and veterinary professionals. [2]

2. Consistent required reporting of zoonotic animal diseases, especially bioterrorist agents, by veterinary health officials to public health officials in all 50 states. [3] 

3. A Foreign Animal Disease response plan that includes a vaccination strategy and capacity for rapid restoration of international exports to minimize potential widespread economic damage (constant with needs outlined at the OIE/FAO International Scientific Conference on foot and mouth disease 17-18 April  2001.) [4] 

4. The need for close coordination and support of the United States, Canadian and Mexican governments in the event a Foreign Animal Disease outbreak occurs first in their geographic region of North America. [5] 

The challenge of domestic preparedness encompasses an immediate need for a heightened state of awareness of the present threat facing the agricultural sector as a potential terrorist target in conjunction with a unified collaborative strategic plan and commitment of government, livestock industries, farmerís organizations and the general public to protect the U.S. Agricultural System. [6] 


[1] Corrie Brown, Threat of Accidental Foreign Animal Disease Introduction, AVMA Annual Meeting, July 23, 2000.Available at:
[2] Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Disease Center, Humanitarian Resource Institute Biodefense Reference Library.Available at:
[3] Ann M. Fitzpatrick, Jeff B. Bender. "Survey of chief livestock officials regarding bioterrorism preparedness in the United States." Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, November 1, 2000. Available at:
[4] OIE/FAO International Scientific Conference on foot and mouth disease 17-18 April 2001. Available: at:
[5] Tripartite Exercise 2000, United States Foreign Animal Disease Response Simulation Exercise Final Reports and Summaries, Humanitarian Resource Institute. Available at:
[6] Stephen M. Apatow. "Agricultural Security and Emergency Preparedness: Protecting One of America's Critical Infrastructures." HRIBRL Discussion Paper ASEP-2001-12, Humanitarian Resource Institute, December 2001. Available at:

Source: Stephen M. Apatow. "Impact of the Foot and Mouth Epidemic on the Equestrian Industry in the UK - A Reference Point for the United States." HRIBRL Discussion Paper FMDEI-2001-12, Humanitarian Resource Institute, December 2001, pp. 6-8. Available at:


Jan. 8, 2002 (The Courier-Journal): Agroterrorism - States assess dangers to farming Plans seek to prevent attacks, limit harm to food supply 

Indiana's exercise was based on a natural occurrence of a devastating livestock disease. But in light of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, officials say the lessons learned will help in the event of something once unthinkable: intentional agricultural bioterrorism, or agroterrorism. 

''I think it's just as challenging as any other potential terrorist incident. It is a serious threat with significant economic implications,'' said Stephen Apatow of the Humanitarian Resource Institute in Carson City, Nev., one of the nation's foremost authorities on agroterrorism. 

Article On The Web:

The Biodefense Reference Library is a collaborative initiative of international medical, veterinary and scientific experts to share information and enhance academic discussion of issues associated with preparedness,  response, mitigation and policy. For additional information, visit:


Back to the Biodefense Reference Library.

Copyright © 1994-2003 Humanitarian Resource Institute.  All rights reserved