Jennifer Buscemi should really frighten you: “Deepfakes” are a clear and present danger for food corporations. At some point in the very near future, the technology will be sufficiently developed and dispersed to enable adversaries to directly target food and agricultural corporations with authentic-looking videos that can damage the bottom line, brand and/or stock value. Once perfected, this technology will be used frequently by corporate adversaries, including radical animal rights organizations or persons. Nation-state adversaries are rapidly developing capabilities that will enable them to create “Deepfake” videos of government officials making statements. These videos can then be planted in social media or even media broadcasts. In the case of food and agriculture, the intent will be to undermine the public trust in the safety of the food supply. The nation is highly likely to see “Deepfake” videos appear in the upcoming 2020 elections, with politicians being the first targets. Russia and China will use every opportunity to undermine trust in the U.S. election system and cause dissent as part of a much larger and likely coordinated (i.e. Russia/China) plan that collectively includes Information Operations, Electronic Warfare, Computer Network Operations, military deception operations and attacks on U.S. Critical Infrastructures. “Deepfakes” are a form of psychological warfare. READ MORE   

HUMANITARIAN CRISES

Venezuela crackdown, and about that gold: Facing mounting pressure to step down as Venezuela’s leader, President Nicolas Maduro has begun a ruthless crackdown, terrorizing poor neighborhoods with deadly nighttime raids and blocking rivals’ efforts to spread their message on social media. At the same time, opposition leader Juan Guaido has been barred from leaving the country. Expect the gold referenced in one of these stories to be interdicted, a possible indication that Maduro is perceiving a real threat to his continuation as president. The U.S. is starting to exert massive pressure on the country’s elite. Read more HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE.

CYBER SECURITY

Threat to critical infrastructure: Russia and China are capable of disrupting critical infrastructure in the U.S., and Iran is not far behind, according to the Worldwide Threat Assessment made public by the U.S. intelligence community this week. It warns that the U.S.’s adversaries and competitors will increasingly use their cyber capabilities for political, military and economic advantage. READ MORE

FOOD SAFETY

A different kind of rubber chicken: Tyson Foods Inc. has recalled approximately 36,420 pounds of chicken nuggets because the products may be contaminated with rubber, USDA announced this week. The affected products are panko chicken nuggets produced on Nov. 26 and sold in 5-pound packages labeled “Tyson white meat panko chicken nuggets.” READ MORE

INTERNATIONAL TRADE

China laments loss of chicken paws: Up to 75 percent of China’s annual chicken imports are made up solely of feet (or paws, as they’re known in the poultry industry). Most of those chicken feet once came from the world’s biggest chicken producer: the U.S. But fraught international trade politics mean the epic flow of chicken feet to China has slowed to a trickle. READ MORE

FOOD SECURITY

Too much milk: Across the country, milk is flooding into food banks as the federal government buys surplus milk from dairy farmers to help mitigate lost sales caused by trade disputes and over-production. And food banks are finding that this “free” milk is a mixed blessing, as storing and distributing perishable items drives up their administrative costs. READ MORE

THE FUTURE

Investors betting big bucks on meat substitutes: The trend to eat less meat is spawning a rapidly expanding industry for meat substitutes, both plant-based and a new high tech generation grown from animal cells in laboratories. From Bill Gates to Leonardo DiCaprio, investors are betting hundreds of millions of dollars that the appetite for meat alternatives will mushroom. READ MORE