LYON, France – Strengthening the capacity of law enforcement to prevent and respond to a terrorist attack on food supplies was the focus of an international meeting at INTERPOL’s General Secretariat headquarters.
Co-organized by the FBI and INTERPOL, the symposium was attended by 110 representatives from law enforcement and regulatory agencies from 25 member countries who focused on the need for early coordination and integration of their efforts and resources.
The three-day (10-12 May) event also included a review of global terrorism trends and the implications of intentional disease outbreaks on law enforcement and epidemiological investigation procedures.
During his opening remarks, FBI WMD Directorate Unit Chief, David Beall, said: “A lot of law enforcement and public health agencies who review threats have not necessarily viewed food defence as a particular concern. We've recently worked with one of the world's largest cruise lines and they had never considered this as a threat. In doing so, they have changed their standard operating procedures.”
“In today’s world, especially with terrorism, the insider threat is one of the biggest concerns. We want this group of esteemed professionals to start asking 'Who is working in these facilities that have access to food?' That's important to know. Our goal is to leave here committed to communicating about food defense concerns," Mr Beall added.
Key topics at the symposium included legislation and regulation; insider threats; communications strategies; food chain security; investigative processes; international notification and multi-agency coordination.
In his address, INTERPOL’s Director of Counter Terrorism, Pierre St. Hilaire said: “In the current climate of countering terrorism we must not rule out the risk to the food chain and the capabilities of terrorist groups to commit such a crime.”
Further underlining the need to collaborate and work together, he added: “We're delighted to be partnering with the FBI, within an ideal multilateral platform, to break down the barriers to information sharing, barriers that prevent cooperation between different continents, jurisdictions and disciplines.”
One of the main objectives of the symposium was to assist member countries in developing comprehensive threat based strategies on preventing and responding to potential chemical and biological attacks against the global food system through intentional contamination.
“This symposium has strengthened defence links to counter the deliberate attack on our food supply. INTERPOL plays an important role in global information sharing with early notification being the key to food defence,” said INTERPOL’s Bioterrorism Prevention Unit coordinator, Rebecca Hoile.
The symposium also underlined the importance of developing proactive countermeasures to enhance the counterterrorism capabilities of relevant agencies.