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Food Chain (Terrorist Threat)

Volume 402: debated on Friday 4 April 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps her Department has taken in the last five years to develop a network of laboratories for the (a) detection, (b) identification, (c) diagnosis and (d) research into (i) biological agents and (ii) technology to counter terrorist action to British (a) farms and (b) food supplies. [105072]

Terrorism is a scenario we do consider seriously. DEFRA has for many years had in place emergency planning and contingency planning for dealing with threats to food supplies and agriculture. Such threats come not only from terrorism or a deliberate action; they can be part of nature.

As part of normal business the department does carry out research against potential contamination of public water supplies and research in areas such as exotic animal disease detection, diagnosis and control.