It’s not often that libraries and terrorism come together as topics.
Sure, there have been incidences of alleged terrorists possibly searching for their Internet porn on public library computers, and librarians gallantly fighting against the FBI for the alleged terrorists’ privacy. That probably happens all the time.
But it’s not like the terrorists are being terroristic inside the libraries. That makes sense, because if you were a terrorist who wanted to harm a lot of people simultaneously, heading to the local public library probably isn’t your best option.
A library in Pennsylvania recently had a budding new library collection eliminated because of its potential for terrorism, though.
The Joseph T. Simpson Public Library in Mechanicsburg, PA was informed by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture that its seed library would have to be discontinued because it violated state seed law, and yes, that is a thing.
Although the law mainly deals with the sale of seeds, apparently, “there is also a concern about seeds that may be mislabeled (purposefully or accidentally), the growth of invasive plant species, cross-pollination and poisonous plants.”
One might believe the possibility of this to be slight, and there are numerous public libraries around the country providing seed libraries. But those aren’t in Pennsylvania, darn it, and Pennsylvania is going to take this stuff seriously!
Why? Because according to one of the agriculture commissioners:
“Agri-terrorism is a very, very real scenario,” she said. “Protecting and maintaining the food sources of America is an overwhelming challenge … so you’ve got agri-tourism on one side and agri-terrorism on the other.”
My goodness, the library could be aiding and abetting agri-terrorists!
Curious about this agri-terrorism, I turned to Google News to find out about any incidences. “Agri-terrorism” yielded three results, including the article I linked to, but Google News helpfully asked, “Did you mean: agroterrorism?” Ah, “agroterrorism” must be the term of art.
So I clicked on that and got six results, which doubled my search and showed me there hasn’t been a wave of this yet, probably thanks to the diligence of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture shutting down seed libraries.
Even Wikipedia was of little help, as its entry on Agroterrorism is woefully short and mostly talks about the possibilities of using insects to cause problems, giving the example of the 1989 Californian medfly attack, which I didn’t know had been a terrorist act.
If you want something to panic about that you might not have thought about before, the FBI has a very informative page about agroterrorism. Even there it’s mostly about contaminating food or halting the food supply chain somehow.
“Attacks directed against the cattle, swine, or poultry industries or via the food chain pose the most serious danger for latent, ongoing effects and general socioeconomic and political disruption,” with foot and mouth disease being a prominent possibility.
Actually, you don’t want to read it. Just hope that stuff never happens.
Contaminating food, spreading diseases, disrupting the food supply chain…these are all serious issues. I’m just not sure what a public seed library has to do with it.
According to description of the library, the seeds are there for borrowing, and at the end of the harvest new seeds are returned, from either the harvest or by buying new ones if the harvest was bad.
So here’s what a terrorist would have to do. First, get a library card. Second, borrow seeds from the library in the spring. Third, return some different seeds in the fall that would be for some other invasive plant that would do something horrible.
And then the seeds would have to be loaned, planted, and have bad plants grow until they rise up and kill people or something.
Seriously, if the danger was of spreading disease through contaminated plant seeds, a terrorist could just toss some diseased matter into the library. Any terrorists contemplating this action would be dumber than the guys in this comedy about jihadists.
So kudos to the Pennsylvania agriculture department for taking themselves so seriously and fighting agroterrorism at the public library. If I lived in Pennsylvania, which I might for all you know, I’d sleep better at night knowing this is how the department was spending its time and money to protect me.
Now that the Mechanicsburg seed library is gone, I feel safer already.