Friday, July 15, 2005

Terrorism and a failure of imagination: Poisoning Milk

FuturePundit: Bioterrorism Attack On Food Supply Modelled By Stanford Researchers

We put SWAT teams on the subway. I guess it helps calm people. On the other hand, there's this article, which could be illegal in the UK fairly soon.
A mere 4 grams of botulinum toxin dropped into a milk production facility could cause serious illness and even death for 400,000 people in the United States. Investments that would cost the public only 1 cent more per half-gallon of milk could prevent this nightmare scenario, according to Lawrence M. Wein of the Stanford Graduate School of Business...

...In the case of milk, says Wein, all it would take is for someone to obtain a suitable strain of botulinum toxin—the most poisonous substance known to humans—from an overseas black market lab, grow it in culture, and pour it into an unlocked milk tank or milk truck. From there, the contaminated milk would make its way into large processing silos, where it would poison at least 100,000 additional gallons. Only a fraction of the toxin would remain active after pasteurization, but according to Wein's mathematical model, that could be enough to infect the approximately 400,000 people who would drink the milk. "Only 1 millionth of a gram is enough to poison an adult," says Wein, "and there would be more than that per person remaining in the distributed milk to do the job.
Ok, from now on the kids drink rainwater. No wonder Homeland Security has had trouble retaining staff. Anyone who's any good gets fed up with George "Flame Plame" Bush and heads for the hills.

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