Bruce Schneier: Don't Worry About Food-based Terrorism

By Matthew Harwood

Noted security expert Bruce Schneier has an interesting op-ed today in the Guardian tamping down fears of  terrorists poisioning our food supply, which have been made worse by the recent swine flu pandemic threat.

The general population has very little to worry about, says Schneier.

What is discussed in terrorist training manuals, and what the CIA is worried about, is the use of contaminated food in targeted assassinations. The quantities involved for mass poisonings are too great, the nature of the food supply too vast and the details of any plot too complicated and unpredictable to be a real threat. That becomes crystal clear as you read the details of the different incidents: it's hard to kill one person, and very hard to kill dozens. Hundreds, thousands: it's just not going to happen any time soon. The fear of bioterror is much greater, and the panic from any bioterror scare will injure more people, than bioterrorism itself.

And if you're going to fear something, according to Schneier, fear accidential contaminations of the food supply like recent peanut salmonella contaminations in the United States. But even then, he says, companies have systems to catch these types of contaminations, which also work to catch any malicious contamination.


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