In the aftermath of 9/11, it became apparent that no sector of the economy was safe from intentional acts to physically disrupt business, shatter consumer confidence, and threaten individuals. A new ballgame began.
Protecting against potential threats of deliberate contamination or damage at any point along the food supply chain presented new challenges beyond traditional approaches to protect food safety and company security. To face these challenges, in late 2002 and early 2003, under the Leadership of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health & Dr. Mike Osterholm, a new public-private partnership began. Industry, academia and regulatory agencies initiated Agriculture and Food Biosecurity System work focused on gathering information concerning atypical, suspicious events and unusual clusters or trends, to enable early recognition. This early pioneering work, helped to secure the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to have a Homeland Security Center of Excellence, National Center of Food Protection and Defense (NCFPD), established in Minnesota. A decision that continues to deliver outcome oriented collaborations & results focused on protecting and advancing public health.
NCFPD was established in 2004 representing a national consortium of academic, public sector, and industry partners led by the University of Minnesota. The broad-based consortium afforded collaboration opportunities in a number of areas such as Supply Chain & Information Management, Detection & Diagnostics, Risk Communication, and development of model Critical Response Teams. Research was undertaken to address gaps and develop more robust predictive modeling. New relationships were formed facilitating an effective network to help assess and understand potential threats and intervention strategies.
Ten years later, I am pleased to say, NCFPD has remained a strong and valued organization. Connections have increased, dialogue continues, new research is advanced, new partnerships are formed, all focused at reducing the potential for contamination at any point along the food supply chain and mitigating potentially catastrophic public health and economic effects of such attacks. We have directly and indirectly benefited from our involvement and look forward to future success in an area of increasing importance to our global economy.