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Caution in agricultural trade agreements
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Agriculture is a vital component of the national and global economy. According to the US Department of Agriculture, one out of eight Americans work in an occupation directly supported by food production, making the food and agricultural sector the nation’s largest employer. Without international trade, nations would be bound to the goods and services produced within their own regions and borders. World trade agreements in the import/export industry are essential to building relationships with neighboring countries; however, as consumers we must demand that products originating from China and other foreign commerce to the Unites States be monitored more closely by the FDA.

You’ll remember shortly after the September 11, 2001, attacks, the fear level of bio-terrorist attacks on U.S. soil experienced by U.S. troops and officials escalated when clues surfaced of Afghanistan reportedly being devoted to agricultural terrorism — the destruction of crops, livestock and food processing operations. Other reports focused on the interest the hijackers had in crop duster aircraft that could be used to distribute aerosols and pathogens. While we are not suggesting eradication of trade with China and other bi-lateral trade agreements, limited trade is a viable safety measure because certain regions have in the past been suspected of deliberately introducing disease to its neighbors.

Bioterrorism attacks on our food and agriculture would easily spread fear and panic and economically devastate the U.S. infrastructure. The attacks could cause famine as well as poison the citizenry. Such an attack could push the U.S into unprecedented unemployment statistics, and heighten tensions between states, thus severing reputable trade relationships.

This type of attack could literally paralyze the industry.

The U.S. farming and food processing industries are highly vulnerable and are ideal sites for the deliberate introduction of toxins into the food supply. The food processing facilities in particular have minimal security, transient workforces and insufficient measures for recalling products. The consequences of a major attack on food sources would be felt almost immediately by consumers.

Without a doubt our families and pets are at risk for contamination from food imports. For example the FDA has yet to determine if melamine was the sole culprit of the 2007 contaminated pet foods scare, or if in fact some other contaminant associated with the melamine. The FDA had discovered that some of the recalled product was exported to at least 29 countries, including countries within the European Union. Whatever the case, it is disturbing to know the alleged scare tactic with the melamine remains an unresolved issue.

While increasing international trade is essential to the perpetuation of globalization, we must now concern ourselves with the fear of bio consumption through contaminated food.

As a consumer, how can we really know if livestock and grain are authentic enough to serve at our dinner table or if in fact it has been tampered with?