Biosecurity is set of measures aimed at preventing the introduction and spread of harmful organisms, in order to minimize the risk of transmission of infectious diseases to people, animals and plants caused by viruses, bacteria or other microorganisms.
In agriculture, it aims to protect food crops and livestock by keeping pests, invasive species and other organisms which may harm the welfare of the human population. The term includes biological threats to people, including from pandemic diseases and bioterrorism. The definition has sometimes been broadened to embrace other concepts, and it is used for different purposes in different contexts. The COVID-19 pandemic is a recent example of a threat which has needed to engage biosecurity measures in all countries of the world.
Biosecurity has been used by the agricultual and environmental communities to describe preventative measures against threats from naturally occurring diseases and pests and later expanded to species. Australia and New Zealand have incorporated the definition within legislation.
In 2001, the United States National Association of State Departments of Agriculture defined biosecurity as "the sum of risk management practices in defense against biological threats" with the stated main goal of "protect[ing] against the risk posed by disease and organisms".
A 2016 draft handbook on biosecurity education produced by the Bradford Disarmament Research Centre at Bradford University in the United Kingdom, where the focus is on the dangers of dual-use research, defines the term as meaning "successful minimising of the risks that the biological sciences will be deliberately or accidentally misused in a way which causes harm for humans, animals, plants or the environment, including through awareness and understanding of the risks". Components of a laboratory biosecurity program include: physical security, personnel security, material control and accountability, transport security, information security, and program management.