Keywords: biosecurity, capacity, international trade, invasive species, trade policy, biological security, risk assessment, biological threats, USA, United States, trade pathways
Biosecurity, international trade and invasive species: improving US capacity to assess risk
Well-informed policy decisions are based upon high-quality data. In September 2005, the US Environmental Protection Agency engaged the International Union for Conservation of Nature to evaluate opportunities for routine evaluation of the linkages between the US market access agreements and invasive species. This study, led by the authors of this article, assessed the ability of US commodity inspection information systems under the auspices of the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection and the US Fish and Wildlife Service to provide reliable, accessible data on invasive species occurrence. Here, we review study implications in the context of US biosecurity. Results indicate that the 'pest' interception data collected by these agencies are inadequate for making well-informed trade policy decisions, especially regarding new market access agreements. Recommendations are offered to enhance US inspection capacity and improve the ability of other governments to reduce the risk of biological invasion via trade pathways.