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Agroterrorism and the Corn Monoculture in the United States

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Corn is the largest and most valuable crop in the United States and a key component for ethanol fuels, processed foods, and feed for livestock. This crop may be threatened by those seeking to harm the U.S. economy by destroying or rendering corn unusable. Agroterrorism is a subtype of bioterrorism, which would use pathogens or pests to accomplish its goals. The current measures to protect the United States corn crop from being a target of agroterrorism are inadequate and underestimate the level of damage that could be done. Estimates place damage to corn at levels as high as 70% crop loss and total a worth of billions of dollars. Because of this potentially large impact several solutions are suggested. The most secure means of protecting the U.S. from agroterrorism is through reduction of monoculture and increasing biodiversity. While some reduction is possible, it is less feasible in the current economic climate, thus the next best alternative is to take more preventative actions. The best preventative measures the U.S. can take is to create a public/private partnership between farmers, government officials, and biotechnology companies. These groups working together would attempt to detect and predict human manipulation or natural evolution of diseases that would be used by agroterrorists. Ideally these steps would be undertaken on the small scale, using funds from reduced corn subsidies to aid in its growth and development. So long as monoculture remains so widespread in U.S. agriculture, steps should be taken to address the insecurities it creates.
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