Of bears and menOf bears and men: Food supply attack may be costly, but not disastrous

Published 4 January 2006

Attacks on the U.S. food supply may cause much economic damage, but it is less clear how many people they will hurt because of the diversity of people’s diets

Thank God we are not like the Panda bears which eat only bamboo shoots or the Kuala bears which eat only Eucalyptus leaves. Here is why: A few weeks ago the respected ScienceDaily published a story (we repeat it here because it deserves more attention) about scientists saying that a terror attack on the U.S. food supply could cause more casualties than the 9/11 attacks and cost the economy many billions of dollars. In response, researchers at the Institute of Food Technologists say that consumer diet choices and existing food supply systems indicate terrorists would find it difficult to cripple the nation in the long-term. The reason? The diverse diets of Americans make it difficult to choose a single food to attack that would sufficiently reach every consumer. Also, the diversity of suppliers producing the same products ensures the likelihood that safe food could still reach consumers.

Still, all the participants at the National Food Protection and Defense Research Conference, which was held in Chicago a few weeks ago, agreed that more research is needed to determine ways to protect the food supply chain, as well as quickly identify contaminants, predict consumer reaction to attack, and develop crisis response systems. Experts at the meeting said that an assault on the national economy might cost $200 billion or more during the five years following the attack.

The Institute of Food Technologists is a non-profit scientific society with 22,000 members working in food-related professions.

-read more in this ScienceDaily report