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VI. Conclusion

Transboundary pests and diseases are a permanent threat to crop and animal producers. They have major economic implications, both in terms of the private and public costs of an outbreak and in terms of the cost of measures taken at individual, collective and international levels to prevent or to counter infestations.

This review has discussed the economic rationale for public intervention, based on the "public good" nature of many control efforts. The need for public intervention frequently extends to the international level and calls for international and regional cooperation, without which many control efforts cannot be expected to be effective. However, in practice it can be more difficult to determine the appropriate level and type of control, or the proper mix of private and public and national and international action.

One problem is that the paucity of accurate data and information on the costs both of transboundary pest and disease effects and of control efforts makes it difficult to decide on the most cost-effective interventions. It can also be difficult to ensure the necessary collective action, particularly at the international level, as parties and countries involved may have quite different incentives for participating in control efforts. Closely related to this is the question of cost sharing in control action.

Recent years have seen both progress and retreat. The technical ability to control old problems has greatly advanced and improved information exchange has facilitated reaction to the emergence of transboundary pests and diseases. At the same time, however, increased movements of people and goods have facilitated the spread of many pests and diseases, while a number of new forms have appeared - the emergence and spread of BSE in Europe being one example.

These developments strengthen the case for collective action at the regional and international level. Following are some of the challenges faced in the area of transboundary pests and diseases today:

In short, the issue of transboundary plant pests and animal diseases is of growing economic and scientific complexity and consequently warrants priority attention.


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