Archived News


May 16, 2007

UC Davis News Service

May 16, 2007

An agroterrorism training program, developed and pilot tested by UC Davis' Western Institute for Food Safety and Security, has been certified for use throughout the nation by the US Department of Homeland Security. This is the only comprehensive curriculum for agroterrorism preparedness certified by Homeland Security.

The program is designed to introduce the concepts of agroterrorism preparedness to both agricultural industry leaders and workers who are on the frontline of food production and processing, community emergency responders, public health and emergency health-care providers, and all others who will need to respond to an agroterrorism attack or other major food systems disaster. The institute's curriculum purpose is to help communities prepare for any food system disaster that may occur at any segment of the food chain from farms to grocery stores and restaurants.

"This training program helps prepare industry to deal with both intentional acts and natural disasters," said Jerry Gillespie, founding director of the Western Institute for Food Safety and Security. "Through pilot testing these courses, we have found that community emergency responders are keenly interested in being part of agroterrorism defense teams. They understand how being prepared to respond at the community level helps protect our nation's overall security."

The six-course curriculum provides participants with a basic awareness of how their workplace might be subject to intentional harm, such as the introduction of a disease-causing agent into crops, livestock and poultry, or processed foods. The courses explain how workers can help prevent, recognize and respond to an act of agroterrorism, and how commercial operations and communities can best plan together for recovery from an attack.

The courses have been taught in 15 states to more than 4,000 participants, representing a cross-section of agricultural industries including dairy, produce, poultry and food processing operations, restaurants, school lunch programs, hospital food services, and grocery stores.

"Certification of the program is important because it enables communities to apply funding they have received from the Department of Homeland Security toward locally sponsoring these training sessions," said Sharon Avery, the institute's agroterrorism training coordinator.

Communities or industries interested in more information about the training sessions should contact Avery at (530) 757-8311 or

Media contact(s):

* Jerry Gillespie, Western Institute for Food Safety and Security,

(530) 757-5700,

* Sharon Avery, Western Institute for Food Safety and Security, (530) 757-8311,

* Pat Bailey, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-9843,