Potential of Bio-/Agro-Terrorism in Kenya
Njiruh, Nthakanio P.
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The growing Biotechnology and Bio-Engineering may have by commensurate measure contributed to bio-terrorism. This has led to stringent measures to deal with it especially, in developed economies like the USA. Under the docket of Homeland Security, the USA has put elaborate strategy to counter Bio-/Agro terrorism. Considering Bioterrorism is a broad area, this paper will have a bias towards Agro-terrorism. Agroproducts finally ends up on the table as food or in the selves as medicine, thus any form of Agro-terrorism will be a huge blow to food and pharmaceutical /medical sectors. The objective of this study is therefore to explore the past actions related to Agro-terrorism. It will also address possible channels of exposure and our preparedness agro-terrorism. Agroterrorism, or Agriterrorism, is a malicious attempt to disrupt or destroy the agricultural industry and/or food supply system of a population through "the malicious use of plant or animal pathogens to cause devastating disease in the agricultural sectors". In the past years Kenya has suffered a number of epidemic plants and animal disease attack. These included; coffee berry disease in the 1970s and 80s, Rift Valley fevers in animals, Necrotic lethal maize mosaic virus, blast in rice, aflatoxins among others. Such attacks have far reaching consequences in human health and food security. In case of diseases (like RVF) and aflatoxins fatalities have been reported in human who consume 2 products contaminated with disease pathogens. If these outbreaks were any form of act of terrorism then, Kenya needs to increase its alertness and surveillance. This can be done by training a team(s) of experts to contain and prevent such attacks. Methods of execution of terrorism include dissemination (firing) of pathogens in the fields during strives; slow introduction by agro-tourist and though food and seed imports. The current advances in genetic engineering of various microorganisms (bacteria, phages etc) may lead to organisms with very strong gene expression prowess that could aggravate the problem. Inclusion of strong promotes like that of Tobacco Mosaic virus in various gene cloning vectors may have increased the virulence of many potential pathogens. In Kenya the regulatory bodies dealing with dangers Agro-terrorism dangers include; KEPHIS, Directorate of Veterinary, National Biosafety Authority and other related bodies. However, they still need to be empowered to increase their responsiveness to any form of terrorism danger. In conclusion, Agro-terrorism, is by all means real and can be deadly hence need to prepare for counter action.