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MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL -- The American public is willing to pay the price for better protection from terrorist attacks, including a higher price for a more secure food supply. That was the conclusion of a national survey conducted and released by the Food Industry Center at the University of Minnesota here.
The National Center for Food Protection and Defense, a Department of Homeland Security Academic Center of Excellence, funded the survey, which polled 4,200 respondents.
Almost 98 percent of those surveyed said they believe there will be another terrorist attack in their lifetime; of those, 44 percent said they expected an attack on the food supply chain within the next four years. While they thought the food supply would be the least likely potential target--84 percent said they expected a subway or railway bombing within the next four years--poll respondents did say that a greater percentage of antiterrorist spending should go to protect the food supply than to protect against any of the other types of terrorism they were questioned about in the survey.
"These results show the American public expects their food supply to be well protected," said Jean Kinsey, Ph.D., co-director of the University of Minnesota's Food Industry Center, in a statement. "The food industry has worked hard to keep accidental contaminants from entering the food supply chain. Consumers obviously expect the same kind of effort to be made to protect against deliberate contamination."
When asked how anti-terrorism spending should be allocated, 19 percent of those surveyed placed the highest priority on protecting the food supply, equal to the percentage of respondents who said the most money should go to prevent the release of chemical or biological weapons. By contrast, 17 percent each said top priority should be given to preventing aircraft hijackings, and to protect other forms of transportation.
"Assuming that what we currently spend on airline security is right, the public thinks we should be spending more than $5.5 billion to protect the food supply chain, and another $5.5 billion to protect against a chemical or biological attack," said Tom Stinson, associate professor of applied economics at the University of Minnesota. "Federal spending today to protect against terrorism in those two key areas is nowhere near that amount."
For more information and the complete survey, go to http://foodindustrycenter.umn.edu http://foodindustrycenter.umn.edu/.
The Food Industry Center at the University of Minnesota conducts research on the food industry and offers forums on current topics and best practices to business leaders and scholars. The center, which comprises faculty, students, and industry leaders from around the world, provides academic thought leadership to the food industry in an effort to improve global competitiveness and to better serve the needs of the U.S. economy.