Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

First Page



Global Food System Defense is an area where, so far, we have not yet obtained real traction in this post-September 11, 2001 world of international terrorism. Cooperative international efforts to defend and protect the global food supply system may well be crucial to the security of every developed nation in the coming years. Affordable energy--currently fossil fuels--and food are at the heart of the security and prosperity of every nation. Yet the food protection efforts that have been historically supported by the international community have focused on traditional "food security," defined as access to sufficient calories and nutrition to sustain the population--usually meant as poor, underfed populations.' For the purposes of this Article, this is not the same as food defense. As Dr. Marc Ostfield, Senior Advisor for Bioterrorism, Biodefense, and Health Security, U.S. Department of State, pointed out in his recent remarks to the European Institute, "[m]any have used these terms interchangeably and, I would argue, erroneously, creating confusion during both national and international policy discussions.' Of course, in countries and regions of the world where food security is a significant concern itself, food defense is a relatively low priority compared to the basics of a sustainable supply of safe and wholesome foods. Unfortunately, however, the global nature of our food system means that primary production or ingredient sourcing from such regions flows directly into countries where food defense has ascended above the base level of the Maslow hierarchy of needs, from physiological to safety needs. Of the few defensive steps designed to protect food supply chains that are in place, these are usually centered on protecting food stocks from theft or misappropriation by both local government and insurgent groups. The concept of a large-scale effort to defend the global food supply chain from adulteration or destruction that might target an entire population is relatively new.