The post‐politics of plant biosecurity : The British Government's response to ash dieback in 2012

Tsouvalis, Judith (2019) The post‐politics of plant biosecurity : The British Government's response to ash dieback in 2012. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 44 (1). pp. 195-208. ISSN 0020-2754

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This paper analyses the post‐political nature of the discourse of plant biosecurity in the context of the response to ash dieback in Britain. Ash dieback or Chalara is a tree disease usually fatal to ash trees. It is caused by a fungal pathogen from Asia and was first discovered in Britain in 2012 at a nursery in Buckinghamshire, England, where it had arrived in a consignment of infected tree saplings imported from the Netherlands. Global trade and the rising number of epidemics affecting plants, animals and humans worldwide are connected. Global trade accelerates the pace of disease emergence and the spread of pathogens and pests. However, to date it has remained conspicuous by its absence from discussions of plant biosecurity. This paper investigates the reasons for this. It presents findings from an analysis of the European Union's (EU) plant health regime, in place to control the circulation and spread of plant pests and diseases in the EU, to demonstrate the key role played by plant biosecurity in neoliberalism. Additionally, results from a qualitative study of the British Government's Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Expert Taskforce convened in the wake of ash dieback are presented to illustrate how the risk‐based approach to biosecurity and expert‐led governance contribute to rendering the role of global trade in epidemics apolitical. The paper builds on and broadens critiques advanced by geographers and Science and Technology Studies scholars of biosecurity thinking and practice and brings them into correspondence with literatures on post‐politics. It concludes that there is not only a need for the development of new approaches to biosecurity, as suggested in the geographical literature, but also for the construction of a new politics of biosecurity.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers
Uncontrolled Keywords:
Research Output Funding/yes_externally_funded
?? ash diebackbiosecuritybritainneoliberalismpost-politicsyes - externally fundednoearth-surface processesgeography, planning and development ??
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19 May 2023 12:50
Last Modified:
15 Jul 2024 23:49