Growing Concerns: animal and plant disease policy for the 21st century” was published just over a year ago.  Several themes emerged very strongly in this policy briefing paper: animal and plant diseases are also spread by people, so we need to understand human behaviour as well as the science of pathogens; public awareness of these problems is low and consequently there is little willingness to pay for biosecurity measures; environmental change is likely to exacerbate the problems; international trade poses particular challenges.

It is also very unclear where responsibility for either implementing precautionary measures or meeting potential financial losses should lie, particularly when the horticulture industry is very disparate and involves many small companies.

A more optimistic response would be that at last we do have the level of public awareness we need in order to have an effective debate about the wider questions of plant biosecurity. Perhaps we need to seize that opportunity now and decide where our priorities lie: free global trade, protection of our native flora, or crop and food security.  We also need to decide who should take on responsibility for biosecurity and its failures.