IMPACTOF AGROTERRORISM ON SOCIETIES
Terrorismis the use of violence, by fanatical extremists, as a way of opposingor governing governments through intimidation. Its major aim is toimmobilize the civilians with fear and anxiety. Terrorists usethreats and physical destruction to maim and kill innocent people,create chaos and gain publicity for their activities. These acts,being mostly unprovoked, cause overwhelming fear that evoke feelingsof helplessness in the society living with chronic fear of terrorism.Research shows that human-made disasters are overly psychologicallypathogenic than natural disasters. However, many nations around theworld focus on potential vulnerabilities in the infrastructuralsectors and put little consideration to the issue of agroterrorism.Gooding (2007) defines agro terrorism as deliberate introduction ofdisease agents, into the food chain, with an aim of underminingsocio-economic stability and generate fear.
Fearof an agroterrorism attack is capable of eliciting fear and anxietywithin the society beyond the political and economic impact it wouldraise. Unfortunately, the food and agricultural industries of manynations are vulnerable due to the increased susceptibility oflivestock to disease, insufficient farm security, inappropriateveterinarian training and the inefficient disease reporting systemswithin the farm producers. The terrorists are presented with a largemenu of bioagents that can easily be used for their wicked acts.Disrupting the food sector, albeit the minimal media coverage, mightsoon be a viable idea to the terror architects to further destabilizethe society. With the population increase in America, and othernations, a small outbreak would mean a widespread impact asprosperous nations tend to take food for granted. The deliberaterelease of infectious pathogens within a society is likely to gounnoticed until the first few symptomatic cases are diagnosed thatcould explode into a global disaster if we consider that nationalresponse systems are not yet able to effectively and efficientlyperform to address the threat (Wieneke, 2006).
Threats of agroterrorism change how food is handled for distributionwithin a society and the world. Due to the nature evolution of foodproduction and distribution systems, most areas in the U.S.A are notsufficient. This means that they cannot grow their own food anddistribute it to their own society. Moreover, the health-datareporting systems are faulty due to the ever-changing reportingrequirements. As a result, occurrence of agricultural incidents thatlead to poisoning, illnesses and death will most likely be the strongindicators of the weaknesses within the system. Historically,intentional agro-events have caused serious casualties amongsocieties. In 1984, Rajneeshee group contaminated salad bars withsalmonella so as to influence the results of the election resultingin almost a thousand people falling ill (McClaskey, 2014).
Inthe event that an attack materializes, population evacuations intoschools, churches and community centers become the “duck and cover”sites for many. However, many government experts have little hope onthe feasibility of evacuating large populations. In Washington, forinstance, a computer expert projected that in a metropolitan area, itwould involve six hours to evacuate the city`s working people of 1million in population on the assumption that there would be noconstruction or accidents.
Aterrorist attack aimed at the food industries is a real threat to theUS. The dairy section would experience devastating effects on beingtainted with an illicit chemical because children, babies, teens andadults all consume the milk products daily. Globalization has madethe industry most vulnerable to terror attacks according to Wyoming(2006). Should the terrorist groups be successful in their acts,prosperity and economic welfare of the Americans would be ruined.Back in 2002, a raid operation on an Al-Qaeda` territory proved fromthe confiscated papers that the group had planned to attack America`sagricultural sector being a surefire way of contaminating thelarge-scale food supplies of the nation. The threat is still as realas before.
Ata time when news concerning terrorist attacks dominate the newsheadlines, agroterrorism has been considered the greatest securitychallenge of all time by experts due to its silent killer nature. Many societies are faced with the prospect of endemic agroterrorismon their soils. The future cannot be free of attacks. Therefore, theimpact that imminent attacks have on the societies cannot begainsaid. Recent studies have concentrated on how the threat attacksaffect the population`s mental health and increased rates ofdepression. Other studies concentrate on the social psychologicaleffects like the impact of agroterrorism on fear and xenophobia inthe societies, stereotypes and ideological orientation of thetargeted population.
Majorevents affect people`s beliefs and attitudes. According to Langwith(2008), any type of threat is negative and threatening to anysociety. He also deduced that negative information tends to have astronger impact on judgment than the positive information. Therefore,terrorist threats being negative in nature, lead to changes inattitudes and beliefs. An example of such belief is how people viewanother society especially one associated with the terrorists.Conflicts between inter-groups increase the hostile attitudes betweensocieties that oppose each other. Agroterrorism threats increase theAmerican society`s reliance on stereotypes towards the targetedmembers. Xenophobia and ethnocentrism, as social effects of threats,have risen as societies increase their solidarity in the face ofattacks on their basic commodity-food.
Giventhe many effects that terror threats have had on societies, we mightconclude that it has been highly effective just like a real attack.It is true because it has exacted a heavy toll on the Americans to bespecific. Terrorism`s major purpose is not just to kill, damage andfrighten. It has managed to alter the social dynamics of thesocieties it continues to target. It has demoralized the targetedsocieties. Non-exposure to media coverage has generated symptoms ofdistress and anxiety within the response teams who feel that littleis being done to sensitize the public about the imminent danger thatsome scholars have termed as a `ticking bomb.” Knowing that acts ofagroterrorism are feasible today within any society, every nationmust alter its prevention and mitigation programs and strive to basethem on a greater understanding of the imminent threat.
Gooding,A. R. (2007). AgriculturalTerrorism (AGROTERROR) and escalation theory.Monterey, Calif: Naval Postgraduate School.
Wyoming.(2006). Bioterrorismagainst the livestock industry.Cheyenne, WY: WLSB.
Wieneke,S. (U.S.). (2006). Agriculturalbioterrorism: What challenges and actions remain?.Carlisle Barracks, Pa: U.S. Army War College.
Langwith,J. (2008). Bioterrorism.Detroit, MI: Greenhaven Press.
McClaskey,J. M. (2014). Amultidisciplinary policy approach to food and agriculturalbiosecurity and defense.Manhattan, Kan: Kansas State University.