Biosecurity for Agriculture and Food Production
Other Priority Areas for Interdisciplinary Action

Introduction to Biosecurity

Biosecurity is a strategic and integrated approach that encompasses the policy and regulatory frameworks (including instruments and activities) that analyse and manage risks in the sectors of food safety, animal life and health, and plant life and health, including associated environmental risk. Biosecurity covers the introduction of plant pests, animal pests and diseases, and zoonoses, the introduction and release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and their products, and the introduction and management of invasive alien species and genotypes. Biosecurity is a holistic concept of direct relevance to the sustainability of agriculture, food safety, and the protection of the environment, including biodiversity. 

Technical Consultation on Biological Risk Management in Food and Agriculture (Bangkok, Thailand, January 2003): More information

Download the Biosecurity in Food and Agriculture Discussion Paper (FAO, Committee on Agriculture 17th Session, Rome,  April 2003). 



The International Portal on Food Safety, Animal and Plant Health

September 2005: One tool developed by FAO, in association with the organizations responsible for international standard setting in sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) matters, to assist in providing information to countries to achieve Biosecurity is the International Portal on Food Safety, Animal and Plant Health. This new website provides a single access point for the latest version of international and national standards, regulations, and other official materials relating to SPS measures in food and agriculture (including fisheries and forestry). The portal can be navigated in English, French and Spanish. All documents in the portal are available in their original language.

For more information or to participate in further user testing, please contact: IPFSAPH project, Room C-296, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy

Tel.:  +39 06 570 54439 Fax.:   +39 06 570 54593
E-mail: [email protected] URL:

Download the Portal progress report from 28th Codex Alimentarius Commission, July 2005 (CAC/28 INF/4) PDF EN

FAO Working Group on Biosafety

As a joint initiative of the Biosecurity and Biotechnology PAIAs, a working group on biosafety has been established to deal with issues directly related to biosafety.
Some of the ways in which the Working Group on Biosafety will assist the parent PAIAs include:

The complete Terms of Reference for the group are available here:  PDF

More information on the activities of the group will be forthcoming.

Examples of National Approches to Biosecurity

For the past ten years, Norway has been in the process of reforming its national food safety administration to include animal and plant health and related activities. This national "Biosecurity" concept was presented by Dr. Keren Bar-Yaacov to FAO personnel on 1 February 2005.

Download presentation
Download concept paper

Capacity Building in Biosecurity

An FAO technical consultation on Biosecurity held in Bangkok in January 2003 identified the critical need for capacity-building for developing countries and countries with economies in transition. This will require the development of capacity evaluation tools, and  the coordination of sectoral initiatives. Work is carried out under the Umbrella Programme for Training on the Uruguay Round, and the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF).

Biotechnology in food and agriculture

Biotechnology provides powerful tools for the sustainable development of agriculture, fisheries and forestry, as well as the food industry. When appropriately integrated with other technologies for the production of food, agricultural products and services, biotechnology can be of significant assistance in meeting the needs of an expanding and increasingly urbanized population in the next millennium.

Biotechnology in food and agriculture

Biotechnology and Food Safety

The scientific basis for the work of ad hoc Intergovernmental Task Force on Foods Derived from Biotechnology is provided by FAO and WHO through a series of scientific expert consultations on the safety and nutritional aspects of GM foods. These expert consultations while addressing issues which are closely related to the work of the Task Force, are completely independent from the inter-government negotiation process, and treat the subject from a pure scientific perspective.

The Codex ad hoc Intergovernmental Task Force on Foods Derived from Biotechnology

The Task Force has completed its work within four years, ending in July 2003. The Task Force had the objectives to develop standards, guidelines or recommendations, as appropriated, for foods derived from biotechnology or traits introduced into foods by biotechnology.

Animal Health

Livestock are important in supporting the livelihoods of poor livestock keepers, consumers, traders and labourers throughout the developing world. Diseases affecting livestock can have a significant impact on animal productivity and production, on trade in live animals, meat and other animal products, on human health (diseases transmissible from animals to humans), and, consequently, on the overall process of economic development.

Plant Health

The International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) is an international treaty whose purpose is to secure a common and effective action to prevent the spread and introduction of pests of plants and plant products, and to promote appropriate measures for their control. The Convention extends to the protection of natural flora and plant products. It also includes both direct and indirect damage by pests, thus including weeds. The provisions extend to cover conveyances, containers, storage places, soil and other objects or material capable of harbouring plant pests.

Biosecurity in Forestry

The concept of Biosecurity is relatively new in Forestry. Traditionally associated with Forest Protection and phytosanitary hazards, which covers such issues as quarantine legislation and measures and the prevention and control of insect pests and diseases, the management of biological risks in forests also encompasses other emerging and sometimes controversial issues such as Alien invasive species (AIS), including invasive exotic forest trees; Introduction of foreign / improved germplasm in areas where native genotypes exist, and related risks of genetic pollution; and the deployment of Genetically modified organisms (GMOs), which has caused increased concern about environmental risks in the food and agriculture sectors (including forestry and fisheries). The FAO Forestry Department closely follows these issues and analyses the implications of growing biosecurity concerns at the national and international levels.

The Strategic Framework for FAO 2000-2015 FAO Medium Term Plan 2006-2011