Keywords: biodefence, biodiplomacy, bioethics, biological invasions, biosecurity, bioterrorism, infectious diseases, invasive species, nonproliferation, risk assessment, biological threats, biological security
The meaning and practice of biosecurity
This special issue demonstrates the breadth and range of topics subsumed under the term biosecurity. It also makes apparent that this diversity of topics is a challenge for developing a coherent view and approach to biosecurity. Though my initial desire was to provide a measure of coherency to this topic and to this special issue, I increasingly came to question whether an overall unified view of biosecurity was feasible or useful. There are several distinct types of biological threats, some of which have little relation to one another, suggesting there may be limited advantages to thinking about or addressing these threats in a comprehensive, integrated fashion. Therefore, rather than imposing an integrated framework, this overview article offers a qualitative meta-level analysis of the papers in this issue addressing the following key issues: (1) the breadth of topics subsumed under the term biosecurity (2) the extent to which various types of biological threats are distinct or inter-related and (3) the extent to which biological threats can or should be addressed in a somewhat comprehensive and integrated manner. I also attempt to extrapolate from these papers what can be learned and concluded in terms of biosecurity risk assessment and management. Finally, I offer recommendations regarding the best path forward to promote overall biosecurity.