Submitted to: Internet Web Page
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/26/2001
Publication Date: 5/1/2001
Interpretive Summary: A bioterrorist attack against agriculture is an important national security concern for the United States. The potential exists that plant and animal pathogens could be used as biological agents against crops, livestock and the food supply. A successful attack could dramatically affect agricultural productivity, product marketability, and export trade. Counter measures are needed that can be used to deter or prevent a biological assault on U.S. agriculture. Molecular methods for characterizing and detecting potential biological agents that are of threat to U.S. agriculture are discussed.
Technical Abstract: Plant and animal diseases greatly reduce agricultural productivity in the U.S. New pathogens are continuing to emerge that create new disease problems requiring novel control measures. There is a growing concern that plant and animal pathogens could be deliberately deployed against U.S. agriculture, with devastating consequences on agricultural product marketability and export. Programs must be implemented to counter potential acts of agricultural bioterrorism. We recommend: 1) the establishment of a national Center for Plant Diseases to monitor plant disease outbreaks, 2) increased funding for genome sequencing projects of plant and animal pathogens, 3) the development of rapid, sensitive and specific diagnostic to identify plant and animal pathogens, and 4) the creation of a centralized database to catalogue molecular fingerprint and DNA sequences from plant and animal pathogens.