By Stan Cox
May 15, 2008
I’d never had to show my driver’s license to speak at a conference before, but not being the type to seek out trouble — especially at this conference — I obediently handed the card over to the woman at the registration desk. She ran it through a scanner, looked at her screen, paused, and, for the first time, smiled. “It’s real!” she announced . “Now put your license in the clear pocket below your namecard and keep it visible at all times.” She pointed to the big black pouch I was to hang around my neck. It read, “FBI – 3rd Annual International Symposium on Agroterrorism.” 
For the third year in a row, the attendees at this Kansas City event were all dressed up with no place to go to encounter a real bioterror attack. One PowerPoint slide after another, in endless progression, focused on the threats that everyday world commerce, with an assist from Mother Nature, poses to foods, crops, and animals. There were plenty of dark predictions, and plenty of ideas about how to set things right. All it will take, it seems, is more government intrusion in your life and more corporate control over your food.
“How do we know what we don’t know?”
The anti-agroterror establishment is out to compile all the data it can get its hands on — data covering a lot more than foot-and-mouth disease in cattle or plans for making pesticide bombs. They want to assemble a data bank filled with the most intimate details of human life: what we buy, what we eat, and when and why we go to the doctor or hospital.
John Hoffman of the Department of Homeland Security gave a typical presentation. He spoke of a National Biosurveillance Integration System  that shares “crossdomain data with the private sector” and monitors pharmacy records and emergency room admissions, ostensibly to get early warnings of “bioevents”. Through a “Biosurveillance Common Operating Picture”, law enforcement agencies around the country will get information about suspected “bioevents”, but, noted Hoffman, “Senior national leaders will of course see a lot more than the rest of us.”
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