Beetle Mania: The Colorado Beetle Scare of 1877

John Clark looks for lessons from the Victorians' 'beetle-mania'

This year marks a significant date in the history of the EEC. But as Britain and the eleven other participating states approach full economic integration, all realise that free trade in agricultural produce does not include free trade in insect and microbe pests. The fear of Newcastle's disease in French poultry in the late 1970s, and Britain's more recent experience with BSE, or Mad Cow Disease, highlight this minor, but important, caveat.

A little over a century ago, the British government grappled with its commitment to free trade as concerns about the incorporation of dangerous livestock diseases and destructive insect pests mounted. Its legislative response to a feared Colorado beetle invasion marks the origins of phytosanitary legislation in Great Britain.

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