Bioterrorism risk measured

Published 11:10 am Wednesday, April 14, 2004

By By JOHN EBY / Niles Daily Star
DOWAGIAC -- Michigan State University's Jim Trosko prizes his ability to put things in perspective. "I have to disagree" that bio-terrorism aimed at the food supply poses a major threat.
The German military paid Trosko's way to that country, giving him a glimpse inside another mindset, such as the panic a dirty bomb could inflict on 12 million inhabitants of Berlin.
To put bio-terrorism into perspective, "We have to begin to think of relative risk," Trosko said, starting with recognizing that the numbers of people directly affected physically would be relatively small compared to those psychologically affected. "In effect," Trosko said, "we're all psychologically affected today because of 9/11. America will never be the same psychologically."
In that regard, terrorists "already succeeded. They've drained health care and education resources to build this protection type of thing to the point where we could use this to help our society in many other ways. We have limited resources and too many problems to solve, and now we're shifting priorities to areas that we have to realize we're going to pay a price in other areas."
That's the price we're paying today: We're all psychologically thinking this is the primary problem of society. Think about how many of you will ever be affected by bio-terrorism in Dowagiac."
Michigan and Pennsylvania are the only states which include a food security section in homeland security plans.
MSU hosted a two-hour town hall meeting Tuesday night attended by 18 people at Southwestern Michigan College's Mathews Conference Center to discuss food safety issues and consumer food safety tools.
The first-of-its-kind open forum was sponsored by Michigan State University Extension in Cass County, along with the Extension Food Safety Area of Expertise Team.
The free public meeting featured consumer tips and information from food safety and toxicology experts at the National Food Safety and Toxicology Center (NFSTC) at MSU and the Michigan Department of Agriculture.
Co-organizer Toby Ten Eyck, a sociology professor with the NFSTC, was one of seven experts who participated.
Ten Eyck said recent media coverage of topics such as bovine tuberculosis, chronic wasting disease, mad cow disease, pesticides, biotechnology and other issues highlights the need for such a forum.
Other faculty and staff panelists from the NFSTC and/or MSU included Craig Harris, Lillian Occena, Brad Upham, Trent Wakenight and Wyant, a Cassopolis graduate who grew up in Pokagon Township.
The NFSTC ( is committed to reducing food-related disease on a global level through research, education and service. For more information, contact Kirsten Khire, communications director, at 517/432-3100, ext. 111, or, e-mail