Historical perspective on agroterrorism: lessons learned from 1945 to 2012.


This article presents a historical perspective on agroterrorism cases from 1945 until 2012. The threat groups and perpetrators associated with bio- and agroterrorism are clustered into several groups: apocalyptic sects, lone wolves, political groups, and religious groups. We used open-source information, and 4 biological agroterrorism cases are described: (1) in 1952, Mau Mau poisoned cattle in Kenya by using a plant toxin from the African milk bush plant; (2) in 1985, the USDA claimed that Mexican contract workers were involved in deliberately spreading screwworm (Cochliomyia hominivorax) among livestock; (3) in 2000, Palestinian media reported that Israeli settlers released sewer water into Palestinian agricultural fields; and (4) in 2011, a person was sentenced to prison after threatening US and UK livestock with the deliberate spread of foot-and-mouth disease virus. All 4 cases can be assigned to political groups. These cases have not attracted much attention in literature nor in the public media, and the credibility of the sources of information varies. We concluded that agroterrorism has not been a problem during the period studied. Lessons learned from the few cases have generated awareness about the fact that nontypical biological weapons and non-high-risk agents, such as African milk bush, screwworm, and sewer water, have been used by attackers to influence local decision makers. This review will be useful in improving future preparedness planning and developing countermeasures.

DOI: 10.1089/bsp.2012.0080

Cite this paper

@article{Keremidis2013HistoricalPO, title={Historical perspective on agroterrorism: lessons learned from 1945 to 2012.}, author={Haralampos Keremidis and Bernd Appel and Andrea Menrath and Katharina Tomuzia and Magnus Normark and Roger Roffey and Rickard Knutsson}, journal={Biosecurity and bioterrorism : biodefense strategy, practice, and science}, year={2013}, volume={11 Suppl 1}, pages={S17-24} }