ArticlePDF Available

A Unified Definition of Biosecurity

Authors:

Abstract

Christopher F. Chyba rightly concludes in his Editorial that national security strategies need to incorporate the concept of biological security (“Biological security in a changed world,” 28 Sept., p. 2349). However, his focus on the public health impacts of biological weapons and infectious
Science 4 January 2002:
Vol. 295. no. 5552, p. 44
DOI: 10.1126/science.295.5552.44a
Letters
A Unified Definition of Biosecurity
Christopher F. Chyba rightly concludes in his Editorial that national security strategies
need to incorporate the concept of biological security ("Biological security in a changed
world," 28 Sept., p. 2349
). However, his focus on the public health impacts of biological
weapons and infectious diseases is too narrow. The risks of "biological harm" extend to a
wide range of sectors (1
, 2).
Biological security or "biosecurity" has a long history in U.S. agriculture and in this
context refers to those measures designed to decrease the transmission of infectious
diseases in agriculture and livestock (3). Other countries apply this concept across both
the economic and environmental sectors; for example, New Zealand implemented a
Biosecurity Act in 1993 and enacted subsequent legislation to manage biological threats
to agriculture, horticulture, forestry, and the country's unique biota (4). More recently, the
international community expanded the definition of biosecurity to address threats posed
to the economy, the environment, and human health by introduced organisms (1). Thus,
"biosecurity" could cover strategies to assess and manage the risks of infectious diseases,
quarantined pests, invasive alien species, living modified organisms, and biological
weapons.
Implementing a biosecurity strategy under such a comprehensive umbrella is not
untenable technically, financially, or politically. We assert that opportunities exist
because many of these problems are subsets of the issue of invasive alien species.
Furthermore, minimizing the risk of any foreign biological organism requires the same
initial lines of defense (prevention, early detection, and rapid response) and coordination
across governments and other institutions at all levels.
In the wake of the events of 11 September 2001, it is likely that substantial financial and
technical resources will be applied to combat bioterrorism. Leveraging limited resources
and improving coordination under a comprehensive biosecurity system could streamline
U.S. programs, reduce redundancy in efforts, and ensure that "homeland security" is
without gaps.
Laura A. Meyerson,
*
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology,
Brown University,
Providence, RI 02912, USA.
Jamie K. Reaser
National Invasive Species Council,
1951 Constitution Avenue, NW,
Washington, DC 20002, USA
*
Current address: American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow,
U.S. EPA/National Center for Environmental Assessment,
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW,
Washington, DC 20460, USA,
and to whom correspondence should be addressed.
E-mail: meyerson.laura@epa.go
... Infectious microbes previously restricted to a narrow geographic distribution or host range are experiencing altered transmission pathways due to the expansion of human activities and the rapid growth of global commerce and travel, thus adversely affecting humans (Wolfe et al., 2007). Furthermore, biosecurity risks arise from deliberate destruction using biological methods, such as bioterrorism attacks or the use of biological warfare agents (Meyerson and Reaser, 2002). In 2001, the anthrax attack in the US, which resulted in social panic, is a well-known example of such bioterrorism. ...
... Novel biosensors could automatically identify viral, bacterial, and fungal pathogens from patient samples within a few hours. Novel surveillance systems could improve real-time surveillance capabilities by combining automatic detection techniques with modern networking and communication technologies, which would play an important role in the warning and prevention of EIDs and bioterrorism attacks (Meyerson and Reaser, 2002;Westfall et al., 2020). ...
Article
Emerging infectious diseases, such as COVID-19, continue to pose significant threats to human beings and their surroundings. In addition, biological warfare, bioterrorism, biological accidents, and harmful consequences arising from dual-use biotechnology also pose a challenge for global biosecurity. Improving the early surveillance capabilities is necessary for building a common biosecurity shield for the global community of health for all. Furthermore, surveillance could provide early warning and situational awareness of biosecurity risks. However, current surveillance systems face enormous challenges, including technical shortages, fragmented management, and limited international cooperation. Detecting emerging biological risks caused by unknown or novel pathogens is of particular concern. Surveillance systems must be enhanced to effectively mitigate biosecurity risks. Thus, a global strategy of meaningful cooperation based on efficient integration of surveillance at all levels, including interdisciplinary integration of techniques and interdepartmental integration for effective management, is urgently needed. In this paper, we review the biosecurity risks by analyzing potential factors at all levels globally. In addition to describing biosecurity risks and their impact on global security, we also focus on analyzing the challenges to traditional surveillance and propose suggestions on how to integrate current technologies and resources to conduct effective global surveillance.
... Biosecurity can be defined as the managerial efforts to "prevent harm from both intentional and unintentional introductions of organisms to human health and infrastructure and the environment" (Meyerson and Reaser 2002b: p. 594). The term "biosecurity" was originally used in agricultural and disease contexts, but in recent years has been applied in a more holistic approach to environmental risk management, encompassing, amongst other concerns, NNS (Meyerson and Reaser 2002a). ...
... La vigilancia e identificación oportuna de amenazas a la bioseguridad, el análisis de riesgos y la información acerca de la variación de las epidemias naturales frente a las no naturales son necesarias para la gestión de riesgos ante determinada enfermedad. En tal sentido, la bioseguridad, el menor riesgo de exposición y la adquisición involuntaria de agentes patógenos, dependen de la coordinación de políticas sanitarias, integración adecuada de sistemas, alerta rápida y diagnóstico temprano (Meyerson & Reaser, 2002). En el caso específico del virus SARS-CoV-2, la prevención de la transmisión comunitaria, el rastreo de contactos, la cuarentena/ aislamiento de los contactos cercanos y la educación pública constituyen medidas esenciales para reducir el riesgo de infección (Ahmad et al., 2020). ...
Article
La pandemia por COVID-19 ha evidenciado la deficiencia de los sistemas de salud en América Latina, exponiendo a la población al contagio en condiciones de desprotección. Con la finalidad de disminuir la propagación del virus, en Perú se decretó la medida de cuarentena nacional con cese de casi todas las actividades, incluyendo clases presenciales en universidades, sugiriendo la necesidad de laborar de manera no presencial. Se realizó un estudio descriptivo en 248 estudiantes de dos universidades de la provincia de Huancayo, Perú. Para ello, se caracterizó sociodemográficamente 248 estudiantes de ambas universidades, se categorizaron las políticas educativas de acuerdo a los objetivos del plan de acción para centros de educación superior, se establecieron indicadores y se evaluó la eficacia de las políticas públicas educativas para mitigar la propagación del COVID-19 usando los indicadores: adecuación, coherencia, y eficiencia. Las políticas socializables y logísticas arrojaron una eficacia de 76,8% y 73%, respectivamente. La promoción del correcto lavado de manos, hábitos de protección al toser y estornudar y, mantenimiento del mobiliario y equipamiento resultaron ser medidas eficaces, mientras que, el monitoreo y reporte de casos sospechosos con posibles síntomas, fue la más ineficaz. El estudio aporta información novel acerca de indicadores para evaluar las políticas públicas promovidas por el sistema educativo Peruano para la contención de la transmisión del COVID-19, en el marco del retorno a la modalidad semipresencial y constituye un material de referencia para la evaluación de protocolos sanitarios implementados en otras universidades
... This definition is referred to in the Animal Health Law (Regulation (EU) 2016/429). Different definitions of biosecurity, therefore, co-exist as attempts are made to propose a unified definition as "the strategies to assess and manage the risk of infectious diseases, quarantine pests, invasive alien species, living modified organisms, and biological weapons" [12]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Originally used in reference to the management of biological weapons and bio-terrorism, the term biosecurity was first used in the agricultural sector in the 1980s as “the sum of risk management practices in the defence against biological threats”. This term was then taken up in different strategic documents of different organisations, so multiple definitions and understandings co-exist. This short communication reviews the origins and evolution of the biosecurity concept and discusses the future perspectives of biosecurity in regard to the One Health Approach and the changing environment.
... Timely surveillance and identification of biosecurity threats, risk analysis of influencing factors and variation of natural versus unnatural epidemics are indeed requirements of biosecurity in risk management. Increased biosafety and biosecurity, as well as lower risks of inadvertent pathogen exposure and acquirement, are dependent on coordination and collaboration, international policies, systems integration, rapid alert and early diagnosis (Meyerson and Reaser, 2002). ...
Article
Full-text available
Besides its impacts on governance, economics, human culture, geostrategic partnership and environment, globalization greatly exerted control over science and security policies. Biosecurity is the critical job of efforts, policy and preparation to protect health of human, animal and environmental against any biological threats. With the transition into a global village, the possibility of biosecurity breaches has significantly increased. The COVID-19 pandemic is an example of an infringement on biosecurity that has posed a serious threat to the world. Since the first report on the recognition of COVID-19, a number of governments have taken preventive measures, like; lockdown, screening and early detection of suspected and implementing the required response to protect the loss of life and economy. Unfortunately, some of these measures have only recently been taken in some countries, which have contributed significantly to an increased morbidity and loss of life on a daily basis. In this article, the biological risks affecting human, animal and environmental conditions, biosafety violations and preventive measures have been discussed in order to reduce the outbreak and impacts of a pandemic like COVID-19.
Chapter
Full-text available
As human communities become increasingly interconnected through transport and trade, there has been a concomitant rise in both accidental and intentional species introductions, resulting in biological invasions. A warming global climate and the rapid movement of people and vessels across the globe have opened new air and sea routes, accelerated propagule pressure, and altered habitat disturbance regimes, all of which act synergistically to trigger and sustain invasions. The complexity and interconnectedness of biological invasions with commerce, culture, and human-mediated natural disturbances make prevention and management of invasive alien species (IAS) particularly challenging. Voluntary actions by single countries have proven to be insufficient in addressing biological invasions. Large gaps between science, management, and policy at various geopolitical scales still exist and necessitate an urgent need for more integrative approach across multiple scales and multiple stakeholder groups to bridge those gaps and reduce the impacts of biological invasions on biodiversity and human well-being. An evidence-based global strategy is therefore needed to predict, prevent, and manage the impacts of IAS. Here we define global strategies as frameworks for evidence-based visions, policy agreements, and commitments that address the patterns, mechanisms, and impact of biological invasions. Many existing global, regional, and thematic initiatives provide a strong foundation to inform a global IAS strategy. We propose five recommendations to progress these toward global strategies against biological invasions, including better standards and tools for long-term monitoring, techniques for evaluation of impacts across taxa and regions, modular regulatory frameworks that integrate incentives and compliance mechanisms with respect to diverse transcultural needs, biosecurity awareness and measures, and synergies with other conservation strategies. This proposed approach for IAS is inclusive, adaptive, and flexible and moves toward global strategies for better preventing and managing biological invasions. As existing research-policy-management networks mature and others emerge, the accelerating need for effective global strategies against biological invasions can finally be met.
Chapter
Biosecurity is an integral part of biorisk management in a laboratory, and its definitions and applications extend well beyond, impacting all aspects of human, animal, and environmental health. At a basic level, biosecurity aims to protect valuable biological material assets. Once the asset is well-characterized, vulnerabilities and potential threats can be assessed and managed in context of its nature and environment. Approaching threat assessment from the perspective of the biological asset —whether the asset in question is a pathogen, medicament, biotechnology, plant, animal, or associated data—offers opportunity to facilitate useful mitigations for its protection or conservation. Considering biosecurity through One Health’s integrative, multi-disciplinary lens is key to achieve systemic health security for the humans, animals, and the environment. This approach requires critical evaluation and systems-level analysis, rather than limiting the scope of intervention to best practices. While the current speed of innovation threatens to outpace security, an understanding of the principles of biosecurity applied will facilitate decisions from the local to the global level.
Preprint
Full-text available
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought biosecurity to the forefront of national security policy. Land use change is a fundamental driver of zoonotic disease outbreaks, yet substantial study is yet required to unravel the mechanisms by which land use-induced spillover operates. Ecological degradation may be the 21st Century’s most overlooked security threat. Within the biosecurity context, we introduce ecological countermeasures as highly targeted, landscape-based interventions aimed at arresting one or more of the components of land use-induced spillover, the chain of biological events that facilitate large-scale outbreaks of diseases transmitted between wildlife and people. We provide case studies of ecological countermeasures of particular interest to the US Department of Defense, broadly discuss countermeasures in the defense and health sectors, and provide an overview of recent US policy decisions related to health security in order to underscore the need for greater attention to ecological resilience as our best defense against future pandemics.
Article
Full-text available
Globalization necessitates that we address the negative externalities of international trade and transport, including biological invasion. The US government defines invasive species to mean, “with regard to a particular ecosystem, a non-native organism whose introduction causes, or is likely to cause, economic or environmental harm, or harm to human, animal, or plant health.” Here we address the role of early detection of and rapid response to invasive species (EDRR) in minimizing the impact of invasive species on US interests. We provide a review of EDRR’s usage as a federal policy and planning term, introduce a new conceptual framework for EDRR, and assess US federal capacities for enacting well-coordinated EDRR. Developing a national EDRR program is a worthwhile goal; our assessment nonetheless indicates that the federal government and its partners need to overcome substantial conceptual, institutional, and operational challenges that include establishing clear and consistent terminology use, strategically identifying and communicating agency functions, improving interagency budgeting, facilitating the application of emerging technologies and other resources to support EDRR, and making information relevant to EDRR preparedness and implementation more readily accessible. This paper is the first in a special issue of Biological Invasions that includes 12 complementary papers intended to inform the development and implementation of a national EDRR program.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.