Session Raises "Agro-Security" Awareness

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To many, grazing cattle and planted fields appear to be unlikely terrorist targets.

Don Clark, a UGA Thomas County extension agent, says, "The average American doesn't even think that their food supply is ever going to be damaged because we're spoiled in this country. We have the widest variety of high quality foods in the world and think it's always going to be there."

But experts from the state's Department of Agriculture and the University of Georgia say that isn't so, and they voiced their concerns to local emergency workers Tuesday at the Thomas County schools annex to raise awareness about the threats that they say are both manmade.

Dr. Bill Thomas, an agro-terrorism specialist, says, "We know that Al Qaeda has looked at agro-terrorism because of evidence we found overseas."

And natural dangers such as avian influenza, better known as the bird flu.

Dr. Thomas adds, "There is a threat. It's spreading rapidly across the world. We don't have it in the United States at this time. We very well could have it by the end of the year."

And first responders say that possibility is reason enough to heed the warnings.

Chris Jones, Thomas County Emergency Management Director, says, "This is a field we're normally not experienced in."

It’s making awareness sessions such as this one all the more important so emergency personnel can identify the signs and symptoms in the case of an agro-emergency.

Organizers of Tuesday’s agro-security session say the tour has one more stop slated in Qwinnett County, Georgia.