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America’s Latest Threat - Terror Food

Details are starting to leak from of Scoop's Washington sources that after anthrax, food terror will be the next weapon unleashed on the U.S. Maree Howard reports.

Scoop's Washington sources report that because of NAFTA-GATT free-trade treaties, America's food supplies are at greater risk than ever before.

A third of fresh fruit and 12 percent of vegetables consumed in the U.S. are now imported, and fruits and vegetables are eaten raw. Yet less than 2 percent of all foreign food is inspected.

But as President Bush departs for the WTO meeting in Qatar, he has asked Congress for "fast track" authority to advance free-trade treaties and that is worrying Washington insiders.

In 1998 the General Accounting Office called U.S. efforts to ensure the safety of imported food "inconsistent and unreliable."

The 1998 inquiry was prompted by 400 America's becoming sick from eating Mexican cantaloupes, 200 from eating alfalfa sprouts from Holland, and 1,000 by eating Guatamalan raspberries.

An outbreak of Hepatitus A in Michigan, traced to frozen stawberries from Mexico, made 151 children sick in 1997.

In South Dakota, farmers have now formed a coalition called Safe American Food for Everyone, with nation-wide goals of closing America's borders to risky and unsafe animal food and feed products.

Agriculture Secretary, Ann Venemann, is most concerned about the possible contamination of feedlots with a virus such as foot-and-mouth, sources say.

If food terror comes to America it will not be the first time. In 1980 the Rajneesh religious cult used salmonella bacteria to poison 10 salad bars in Oregon and caused 750 people to become ill.

The alleged lacing of Chilean grapes with cyanide in 1989 caused a recall of all Chilean fruit in the United States.

Overseas, terrorists have attempted to cripple Israel's economy with mercury sabotage of citrus fruit exports. A dozen children in West Germany and Holland were hospitalised in the incident.

Kurdish rebels tried to poison the water supply of a Turkish military base with potassium cyanide in 1992, and in 1995, nine Russian soldiers died from drinking New Year champagne laced with cyanide by Tajik enemies.

The most lethal known attack on food was in 1946, when thousands of Nazi SS soldiers in an American POW camp outside Nuremburg were attacked when the bakery was infriltated and arsenic-based poison was spread on the loaves. Hundreds died, and thousands were made ill.

Scoop's sources also report that to make the Islamic world hate America, there are fears that the Taleban may poison food packages the U.S. air-drops to Afghan people.

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