Policy ForumEcology

Biological Control of Invading Species--Risk and Reform

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Science  16 Jun 2000:
Vol. 288, Issue 5473, pp. 1969-1970
DOI: 10.1126/science.288.5473.1969

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Conservation relies increasingly on biological control (BC) of organisms that invade in natural and agricultural areas throughout the world. However, some BC organisms have harmed native species. In the United States, regulations are based on old laws meant to bar agricultural pests, and these are particularly ineffective in protecting native invertebrate animals. Improved ecological safety of BC depends on recognizing that BC is not appropriate for every pest, factoring ecological safety into the selection of BC agents, and limiting the importation and dissemination of agents that can harm either native animals or plants. Reasonable reform of BC will insure the viability of this valuable tool for both agriculture and conservation.