North Korea is becoming ever more dangerous with its successes in developing ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons. The hermit kingdom’s lesser-known capabilities in the areas of chemical and biological weapons development are no less important to our national security, however.
Many biological weapons experts think North Korea possesses both smallpox and plague, pathogens responsible for the deaths of hundreds of millions of peoples over the centuries. Unleashing them could cause chaos. The other pathogens North Korea is believed to possess, however, are of more direct concern to food defense professionals. These include Brucella, anthrax and avian influenza, any one of which could cause deadly disease in animals and humans.
The U.S. already suffered a serious biological-weapons attack in the aftermath of the 9-11 attack on the twin towers and the Pentagon. A major bioterrorism event on our food supply or our agricultural systems would be expected by many experts to cost us well into the hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars.
At present, the U.S. has the safest, most secure and abundant food supply of any nation in the world
Food and agriculture are critical infrastructures, essential to our well-being and national security. Any looming threat to our nation will generally entail a threat at some point to our food supply.
So what should food defense professionals do?
North Korea, like other nations have in the past (e.g., Russia and Japan), may see the use of biological weapons as a way to help break the will of the enemy by causing maximum disruption, overwhelming response capabilities and severely damaging an opponent’s economy. To accomplish these goals, a biological attack would likely occur in many places simultaneously and perhaps involve multiple pathogens, confusing diagnosticians and compounding the damage by causing delay.