Biosecurity Borderlands: Making biosecurity work in a complex landscape

Sep 2009 - Dec 2013

Biosecurity Borderlands is a UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded project run from the School of Geography, Exeter University and the Faculty of Social Sciences, Open University.

Principal Investigator: Prof Stephen Hinchliffe (Exeter).
Co-investigators: Prof John Allen, Dr Nick Bingham and Dr Simon Carter (Open University)

This project aims to investigate the competing demands on biosecurity. The economic and social costs associated with communicable animal diseases, particularly after recent swine flu, foot and mouth, avian influenza and bluetongue outbreaks in the UK, have made biosecurity both a key policy goal and a widely used if poorly understood term. Given retailer-led cost reductions, a diversified food market, organic, free range and wildlife friendly farming methods and a need for an accessible countryside, biosecurity fits within a complex landscape. Finding ways to meet biosecurity standards at the same time as managing other concerns is a major challenge for policy-makers.

This project investigates the competing demands on biosecurity by undertaking research in three key sites including: food handling and packaging houses, exploring the connection between biosecurity and insecure employment practices; the movement of meat, focusing on the connection between the demands for a cost efficient, diverse meat trade and biosecurity; and lastly, connections between wildlife and biosecurity, farmers’ responses and the work done by wildlife organisations in preparing for disease outbreaks and monitoring wildlife health.

The project will also develop public debate on understandings and acceptability of biosecurity practices. A series of public events will be used to explore questions that arise from the research.