Exotic Pests and Diseases: Biology and Economics for Biosecurity

By King, Chad | NACTA Journal, March 2005 | Go to article overview

Exotic Pests and Diseases: Biology and Economics for Biosecurity


King, Chad, NACTA Journal


Exotic Pests and Diseases: Biology and Economics for Biosecurity By Daniel A. Sumner, Iowa State Press, 2003, 265 pages, hardcover, $79.99.

As exotic pests and diseases are transferred around the world with increasing frequency, the need for treatment and prevention to incorporate costs and benefits of all alternatives is critical for efficient response. Addressing this need was the goal of an interdisciplinary project at the University of California Agricultural Issues Center. This project led to a public forum. Staff members from the U.S. Department Agriculture, the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources of the University of California and the Agricultural Issues Center formed study teams to report on responses to exotic pests. A number of the presentations created by study teams for the forum were developed into chapters of Exotic Pests and Diseases: Biology and Economics for Biosecurity, with Daniel Sumner as editor.

Successful management of exotic pests requires a merging of the fields of biology, agriculture, politics, trade and economics. It is important to know the origins, the growth cycles and reproduction and dispersal methods of pest organisms, and also the potential financial impacts of infestation, eradication, control and quarantine. This book provides a detailed look at exotic pests, introducing issues, principles, institutions and history in the first section, and case studies in the second section. The latter provide clear examples of economics, biology and policy evaluation.

Understanding the origins of the book explains its emphasis on pests and diseases important to California, after a thorough overview of regulatory aspects. This overview details the management and response to pest outbreaks at the state and federal level, as well as those imposed by trade agreements such as the General Agreement on Tariff and Trade (GATT), the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). Several case studies examine how these organizations have dealt with international trade disputes in regard to exotic pests. After this broad background, the majority of the book focuses on pests and diseases that pose a specific threat to California. Most of the case studies reviewed discuss the biology of the organism as well as the economic cost - to growers, consumers, the public, etc. - attributed to the impacts of that organism. Case studies presented are: bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease), foot-and-mouth disease, plant-parasitic nematodes, citrus canker, the red imported fire ant (RIFA), karnal bunt, insect and mite pests of avocados, ash whitefly, rice blast and yellow starthistle. …

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