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Biosecurity and Insecurity: The Interaction between Policy and Ritual During the Foot and Mouth Crisis

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In 2001 a highly infectious animal disease, foot and mouth disease, broke out in the UK and spread rapidly. In May, when the spread seemed to be slowing down, new disease hotspots appeared in previously little affected regions, such as North Yorkshire. New biosecurity rules were imposed. Based on a series of semi-structured interviews with stakeholders, this article shows that the biosecurity measures farmers implemented during the epidemic meant more than just reducing the risk of spreading FMD. For many, cleansing and disinfecting became Foot and Mouth. Biosecurity actions became invested with symbolic values and, in particular, were ritualised as part of the symbolic spatial construction of an otherwise 'invisible' enemy.
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Keywords: biosecurity; framing; narrative; policy; risk; ritual

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2006-11-01

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  • Environmental Values is an international peer-reviewed journal that brings together contributions from philosophy, economics, politics, sociology, geography, anthropology, ecology and other disciplines, which relate to the present and future environment of human beings and other species. In doing so we aim to clarify the relationship between practical policy issues and more fundamental underlying principles or assumptions.

    Environmental Values has a Journal Impact Factor (2016) of 1.279.
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