Monday, July 30, 2007

And Now for Something Completely Serious

According to the National Plan for Research and Development in Support of Critical Infrastructure Protection report of the President’s Executive and the U.S. Homeland Security Department, we need to plan to make our infrastructure more secure. Important, but vulnerable, areas include the Internet, our food and water supple, military establishments, energy systems, financial systems, dams, nuclear plants, national monuments, etc. Developing and implementing reaction plans will prevent, and provide rapid responses, to a variety of possible disasters, from accidents, natural disasters, and terrorism. Planning and actions need to be taken now to keep systems operable if a disaster of any type occurs.

Actions that have been taken or that have begun implementation include improved monitoring of our agriculture systems, increased and improved aerial surveillance, updating fire analysis responses, improving the ability of emergency responders to communicate with each other, and producing decontamination foam that can suppress biological and chemical threats. There is a need for great research and development in means to better protect our various important infrastructures that remain at risk to disasters.

There is a need to improve food testing facilities. As more food comes from different parts of the world, the testing facilities require a greater library of possible agents to test any suspected contaminant against in order to identity what has entered our food system. It is a little known fact that it is hard to protect our food system prior to any contamination. What happens is the symptoms of those that are sickened are used by laboratories to determine which possible contaminants to look for. In times of a serious threat, the need for time and accuracy is essential. It is usually only after the contaminant has been identified that health providers will know how to counteract the ill effects. Our food testing systems require updating to be able to handle these challenges.


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