FBI Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate to Host Workshop on Agriculture and Food Defense
|FBI Detroit July 19, 2012|
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate; FBI Detroit; the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Water Security Division; along with U.S. Department of Agriculture; the Food and Drug Administration; the Food and Agriculture Protection Training Consortium; and Michigan State University are partnering to host the Multi-Sector Infrastructure Protection and Threat Workshop in East Lansing, Michigan, on August 1 and 2, 2012. These workshops, concentrating on the safety of our water supply and agricultural food chain, have been held in select cities across the country.
John Perren, the FBI’s assistant director of the WMDD in Washington, D.C., said, “Bringing together so many industry experts from the field, government agencies, and the community has been a proven method of building relationships, sharing information, and positioning everyone involved in case an event affecting these entities ever occurs. The information is out there, but the sessions of the conference bring it all together, and the face to face meetings improve the overall readiness of everyone involved.”
The workshop, which will be held over two days, will include presentations from the FBI, DHS, EPA, FDA, and the USDA among other agencies. Topics will cover multiple issues and have presenters who are experts in their fields.
One of the main issues will be protecting water, food, and agriculture assets, and the first session will inform attendees on identifying the different critical infrastructure assets in their area. The EPA will provide a demonstration of their new Community-Based Water Resiliency (CBWR) initiative. CBWR is a new tool for targeted stakeholder such as: water utilities, primary agencies, healthcare/public health, and emergency services (including law enforcement).
The FBI’s WMDD will give a presentation on threats to the water, agriculture, and food sectors from a national perspective and will discuss the threats and vulnerabilities in each sector.
A critical element of the workshop is building relationships and partnerships, and there will be a presentation on establishing private sector/government partnerships to investigate agroterrorism incidents. This will detail the law enforcement response and the regulatory response to a potential attack on the food and agriculture systems and how these responses complement each other in resolving these incidents. The FBI National Joint Terrorism Task force will be discussed as well as the flow of threat information and how information is investigated, evaluated, and disseminated. A Cyber brief covering threats, capabilities related to infrastructure protection, and over-the-horizon advancements will be provided.
Every WMD incident will require a multi-agency response, and there will be a session on the capabilities and capacities in water, food, and agriculture sectors, which will focus on the assets available at the federal, state, and local levels.
Information will be provided on evidence preservation and laboratory protocols, and sample collection and handling will be discussed. A panel discussion will provide an introduction to the various laboratory networks associated with the water, food, and agriculture sectors.
Case studies will review recent tampering, agroterrorism, and water related crimes. The workshop will wrap up with a session on information sharing from the federal, state, and local perspective.
Jeff Muller, assistant section chief of Countermeasures in WMDD, stated, “At the end of the day, any response to a situation regarding the safety of our food supply will require a multi-agency response. These meetings help define the roles, responsibilities, and capabilities of each of the responding agencies. The FBI will work with our partners to provide the best prepared and best trained response package to the scene and throughout any investigation. “
FBI Detroit Interim Special Agent in Charge Edward Hanko added, “Fortunately, this is a low-risk scenario, and there is no known threat to our food and water supply, but these types of interactions help keep the lines of communication open. It’s always better when everyone who has a hand in this knows each other’s roles and capabilities, and these workshops provide that opportunity.”
More information on the FBI’s WMD programs can be found at www.fbi.gov.