Addressing Risks of Advances in Biology and Biotechnology

Plant and Food Biosecurity

The threat of terrorism through the use of unconventional technological means cannot be ignored. The food and agriculture industry can be a vulnerable target for the terrorists given the potential high level of health and economic damage that can be achieved by attacking this sector. In view of this threat a consortium of partners (led by University of Torino and funded by the European Commission) aims at establishing a virtual centre for competence in plant and food biosecurity to enhance preparedness and response capabilities to prevent, respond and recover from a biological incident or deliberate criminal activity threatening the European agrifood system.

The consortium includes a range of partners from different fields of study who bring diverse experience and expertise to the project, and is constituted by the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (United Kingdom); the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (United Kingdom); Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universitaet Bonn (Germany); Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (France); Regional Environmental Centre for Central and Eastern Europe (Hungary); Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine (United Kingdom); Middle East Technical University (Turkey); SPIN-TO SRL (Italy); The Agricultural Research Organisation of Israel – The Volcani Centre (Israel); Oklahoma State University (United States of America); and Kansas State University (United States of America).

As a project partner UNICRI is involved in facilitating the assessment of risk posed by agro terrorism. UNICRI in collaboration with other partners is in the process of preparing a report analysing the representation of environmental, biological and social impacts of agro-terrorism. UNICRI will also assist in the development of specific scenarios to facilitate the assessment of biosecurity perception at the general public level and research level.

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