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Corn+Soybean Digest

Extension Studies Bioterrorism Readiness

Keeping drinking water supplies safe is the most urgent concern in communities when local officials consider likely bioterrorism targets, according to a survey of more than 1,100-university extension educators in 30 states.

Purdue University Extension received U.S. Department of Agriculture funding to help provide education on homeland security. Through the Extension Disaster Education Network, the need for materials to educate the public on homeland safety issues is being assessed.

Of the educators surveyed, 86 percent said it was likely to very likely that there would be a bioterrorist attack somewhere on U.S. farms, food or water supplies, and 78 percent said drinking water security was an urgent concern.

"Surprisingly, the threat to crops was viewed as low (36 percent), even though agricultural lands are some of the most vulnerable targets in the nation," says Steve Cain, Purdue Extension field staff liaison.

Cain says consumers and farmers also are being surveyed to determine what kinds of educational materials are required to help the public prepare for and survive a bioterrorist attack.

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