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State gets $62K to stave off food terrorism

By Jackie Johnson | Wisconsin Radio Network

Wisconsin is getting over $62,000 from the USDA to combat agro-terrorism.

The state Ag Department’s high-tech plans to protect the nation’s food system from agro-terrorism earns the agency’s Food Safety Division one of only four Innovative Food Defense grants from the federal government.

“They were grants that were intended to spark some innovative ideas about how to protect our food supply in case of some kind of an agro-terrorism attack on the food supply.”

Donna Gilson with the Ag Department explains TIGER is a high-tech tool to help investigate a terrorist strike to Wisconsin’s vital food industry. Its intent is to minimize the damage to people’s health and the economy, by being able to act very quickly using specialized computer maps to track down potentially contaminated food.

Gilson says any threat to the food supply would be resolved by re-tracing every step of the product — from the farm, factory, distributor, warehouse, and grocery store. To better do this, relevant information needs to be consolidated and shared among involved parties, including inspectors, affected businesses, and other health agencies.

TIGER stands for Terrorist Incident GIS-Enhanced Response. GIS, or geographic information system, would be the centerpiece of TIGER. The system could eventually be made available to other states, and elements of it could also be used in more common food safety emergencies, such as natural disasters or food-borne illness outbreaks. Other Innovative Food Defense grants went to California, New York, and North Carolina.

Jackie Johnson report (1:35 mp3)

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