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Public perception and risk communication in regard to bioterrorism against animals and plants

Author(s) : G.S. Pearson

Summary :

This paper examines the total international prohibition on the use of disease to attack humans, animals and plants, noting that in the past several countries had developed programmes for attacks on animals and plants as well as humans. Current activities undertaken by intergovernmental organisations – the World Health Organization (WHO), Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) – to counter the threat of attacks on humans, animals and plants are examined. Effective countermeasures to deliberate attacks need to be developed in harmony with existing measures to control natural or accidental outbreaks of disease. Finally the paper assesses the risk and the public perception of it, and considers what risk communication is needed and to whom. Clear mandates are needed for the FAO and OIE to be prepared to deal with outbreaks of disease, and with contamination of the food supply chain, whether accidental or intentional.

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