Threat of bioterrorism very real, study says

A study conducted by Neville Clarke of Texas A&M University and Jennifer L. Rinderknecht of Texas AgriLife Research points to evidence that the threat of bioterrorism development in some countries is very real.

Using potential perpetrators and their methods, regulatory and trade restraints, modern biology and priority diseases that are listed by the Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health, the researchers said that the development of biological agents continues in certain countries, the Indo Asian News Service reports.

"Any emerging country that is beginning to think about maintaining international trade needs to be aware of the potential for bioterrorism," Clarke, the special assistant to the Texas A&M University System's vice chancellor of agriculture, said, according to the Indo Asian News Service.

Clarke said that bioterrorism dates back to the middle ages when bodies and carcasses racked with disease were catapulted over enemy walls to induce animal or human sickness. Similar practices continued until 1975, when over 160 countries at the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention agreed to prohibit programs of biological warfare.

Clark said that live animal and fresh meat restrictions still continue on imports from Brazil because there are still pockets of foot-and-mouth disease in that country.

"That impairs their ability to export to the U.S.," Clarke said, according to the Indo Asian News Service. "Trade restriction is one of the most important underlying issues that faces countries. That makes bioterrorism everyone's business."