(Chicago, Ill., AgPRonline) Experts have been painting different scenarios for agro-terrorism for industry stakeholders, politicians and government officials for sometime.  The incidents of the last few months have brought into focus the need for agri-food leaders to stay ahead of any potential agro-terrorism activity.  This is why AgriFood Innovations, Farms.com, Clark Consulting International, Inc. and Guelph Food Technology Centre are sponsoring a virtual webcast conference on "Agro-terrorism, Biosecurity and Food Safety: Staying Ahead."  It will take place on December 10, 2001 at 1:30 Eastern (New York) time, 12:30 Central (Chicago), 11:30 a.m. Mountain (Denver), and 10:30 a.m. Pacific (Los Angeles) time.

"We have lined up some of the top people who have been working in this area for many years to bring their thoughts and strategies to our conference," says Dr. Vincent Amanor-Boadu, Managing Director of AgriFood Innovations. (www.AgriFood.com) "These people are not opportunistic in their thinking by any stretch of your imagination but serious and consistent in their concern about our food industry's exposure to the threat of agro-terrorism."

Conference speakers are Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS), Dr. (Col) Jerry Jaax, Kansas State University, Dave Russell, UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), and Michael Detlefson, Maple Leaf Foods

It is important for agri-food industry stakeholders to develop their individual strategies to minimize or prevent any attacks because its effects can be devastating.  Dr. Amanor-Boadu notes that the cost of a deliberate act of disruption in the food industry will be much higher than the estimates from natural outbreaks of diseases such as Foot and Mouth Disease.  "Some experts have estimated the cost of FMD in the US to be between $2billion and $24 billion.  We think you should multiply that by a factor of four if the cause of the outbreak is deliberate," he says. 

"We want people to know the probabilities and the possibilities of an attack and learn what they can do to protect themselves," notes Joe Dales, Executive VP for Farms.com, a conference co-sponsor.  "We see this as helping our clients prepare, through learning and knowledge sharing, for any outcome.  This is how we will maintain our global competitiveness." 

 "We have structured a virtual conference to save attendees time and money by using the Internet as the conference delivery medium.  No travel, no taxis, no hotels!" he adds. 

For more information, please visit www.agrifood.com/conferences or call toll-free 1-888-248-4893