During the last few weeks I'm sure we've all thought more about what the World Trade Center and Pentagon terrorist attacks have meant. It undoubtedly will be the one and only event that defines 2001. What a beginning to the new millennium.

Sure, those attacks have meant a change in focus on Capitol Hill. They should. They may also mean dollars formerly earmarked for the new Farm Bill could be siphoned away to pay for the military presence we're now seeing.

(For a look at what the tragedy means to agriculture, see “The Fateful Attacks,” by Doug McInnis, on page 8.)

I'd like to applaud American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman for his request to President Bush that a high-level staff position focusing on agroterrorism be named to the new Office of Homeland Security.

“As the nation and the world prepare to embark on a war against terrorism, there are concerns and speculation regarding how agriculture will be affected,” Stallman says.

“An attack aimed at the safety of our food supply and agricultural infrastructure could cause widespread and long-term damage,” he adds. “We must continue to increase surveillance and ensure that adequate USDA resources are available to combat any posed biological threat or mobilize against any occurrence.”

Stallman's sentiments are right on target. If this ongoing effort to halt terrorism mirrors the “war on poverty” or the “war on drugs,” we're in for a long haul. We need steadfast vigilance and we need it now.

Since the tragic events of Sept. 11, we've seen a swell of patriotism across the country. It's my hope that this re-emergence of national pride helps society, especially on the activist front, to somehow self-correct and recenter its attitudes.

I also believe the intense debate on biotech issues, such as the use of genetically enhanced crops, will take a backseat for the American and foreign public. Those crops already have a ton of solid science behind them. Maybe it's time consumers pay attention to that and move on.

Plain and simple, the threat of terrorism — and agroterrorism — should cause us to be less sarcastic about daily life. The basic principles of life, like family, friends and personal safety — the ones agriculture has been characterized by in the past — should be center stage for everyone in America.