, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 119-138
Date: 01 Apr 2011

Economics of biosecurity across levels of decision-making: a review

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Biosecurity is a concept that has important economic, social, ecological and health-related dimensions. By biosecurity we mean protection of production, ecosystems, health and the social infrastructure from external threats caused by pests, pathogens and diseases of various forms and origins. The fact that more goods, transport platforms and people are moving around the globe at increasing speeds provides unforeseen possibilities for rapid spread of different types of organisms. This is exacerbated by changes in the production structures and climate. As a result, both the benefits and the risks of changes in the food system cross borders more often, leading to an increased demand for biosecurity policies. Economics can be related to biosecurity in at least three fundamental ways. First, many of the ultimate or proximate causes of bioinvasions create economic welfare. Second, bioinvasions result in various types of impacts, many of which are economic by nature — or at least may be measured in economic terms. Third, the negative impacts of invasions or their probability of occurrence can often be either avoided or reduced. These biosecurity policies themselves have economic implications, which often may be quite different from those caused by the biological hazard itself. A few reviews of separate components of economics of biosecurity exist, but there have been no attempts to review the big picture. Instead, the previous reviews have concentrated on different components of biosecurity such as invasive species or animal diseases. Our aim is to look at the issue in broad terms, draw some commonalities from the research conducted, and identify areas in which economic analyses have primarily been conducted and in which areas there remains work to do. The review includes about 230 studies from all areas of biosecurity up to the year 2008. The review finds that study of economics of biosecurity is growing steadily, but is still relatively concentrated on narrow questions, few countries, few species/diseases and few journals.