APEC is increasing efforts to prevent terrorist attacks on the food supply in the Asia-Pacific through a new food defense initiative launched by the APEC Counter Terrorism Task Force (CTTF).
The "Mitigating the Terrorist Threat to the APEC Food Supply" initiative will strengthen the capacity of economies to deal with impacts that could result from attacks to the food supply in the region. The first project for the new initiative will be a workshop in Bangkok in November that will be attended by policymakers and food defense technical experts. CTTF members finalized many of the details of the upcoming workshop at their meeting in Viet Nam this week.
The Chair of the CTTF, Ambassador Benjamin Defensor, said food supplies in Member Economies are vulnerable to attack and must be protected.
"If terrorists were to introduce poison, disease or other contaminants to food stocks the potential death toll would be high and widespread," Ambassador Defensor said at the conclusion of the CTTF meeting that approved the initiative.
"In addition to the loss of life, the long term economic damage could see entire food sectors almost decimated as consumers abandon certain foods."
The workshop in Bangkok, Thailand, on November 1-2 will bring together experts to share strategies to identify vulnerabilities, or areas, most susceptible to deliberate contamination in the "farm to table" continuum and develop strategies to fill these security gaps.
Considering that almost all food production is in the private sector, Ambassador Defensor said a number of business representatives from around the region will be encouraged to participate in the workshop.
"Farmers, food producers, transportation companies and retail outlets are the frontline of defence against potential terrorist contamination of food supplies, so are essential contributors for increasing our counter-terrorism capacity."
In welcoming the new initiative Ambassador Defensor said APEC was in a unique position to confront the terrorist threat.
"APEC is working to protect the region from the ongoing threats posed by terrorists across a wide range of areas including air travel, rail networks, energy and now food supplies. Because of the broad range of areas that APEC covers we are able to combine the resources of our 21 members to confront the threat."
The workshop in Bangkok is jointly sponsored by the United States and will be co-hosted by Thailand.