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Institute to counter agricultural terrorism formalized

COLLEGE STATION, December 13 - Texas A&M University has established an institute aimed at protecting the nation's food and water supply against terrorism.

Regents approved the Institute for Countermeasures against Agricultural Bioterrorism on Dec. 7, nearly two years after its conception.

Regent Anne Armstrong credited the foresight of Neville Clarke, the institute's director, for the timely implementation of the new center. "A lot of planning had been going into the work of an institute to counter agricultural terrorism long before the attacks of Sept. 11," she said. "Dr. Clarke had put us well ahead on this issue."

The institute already has received about $400,000 in fiscal 2002 funding from U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agriculture Research Service to get the institute going, said Ed Hiler, Texas A&M vice chancellor and dean of agriculture and life sciences.

"This issue is of utmost importance to Texas and the entire United States," Hiler noted. "Our food, agriculture and water are at risk, and we need to be prepared. We want to formalize this institute to solidify our role in developing the research to prevent and counter terrorist attacks."

Hiler added that Experiment Station scientists have been researching ways to counter terrorism for decades.

Clarke, a career Air Force officer and former director of the Experiment Station, said the events of Sept. 11 only heighten the importance of protecting agricultural production and the food supply from attacks.

"The system has been adequate in the past for prevention and response," he said, "but it sorely needs new vision to be able to respond to these new types of attacks."

Part of that "new vision" includes the use of surveillance networking, satellite imaging, field and laboratory diagnostics using biotechnology, and computerized information systems. "There's the whole area of bio
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Contact: Dr. Ed Hiler
e-hiler@tamu.edu
979-862-4384
Texas A&M University
13-Dec-2001


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