Agricultural policy, food policy, and communicable disease policy

J Health Polit Policy Law. 2012 Dec;37(6):1031-48. doi: 10.1215/03616878-1813826. Epub 2012 Aug 16.


Food and agricultural policy is an essential element of a communicable disease policy. The European Union has developed a more systematic and broadly based interest in questions of food safety and animal health and welfare linked to modernization of the Common Agricultural Policy, reflected in a new treaty obligation on animal welfare. Following the bovine spongiform encephalopathy crisis, moves were made to create a European competency, but implementation and enforcement resources reside with the member states. The European Animal Health Strategy is meant to lead to an EU animal health law, but this has already been constrained by fiscal austerity. The development of such a law may lead to a lowest common denominator formula that does little to enhance consumer protection or improve animal welfare. This is an inherent risk with top-down forms of Europeanization; more attention should be paid to lessons to be learned from bottom-up initiatives of the type used to counteract the bovine diarrhea virus. There will always be a tension among what is good policy for reducing the incidence of communicable disease, policy that is popular with EU citizens, and policy that is acceptable to member states.

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Communicable Disease Control*
  • Encephalopathy, Bovine Spongiform / prevention & control
  • European Union
  • Food Safety
  • Health Policy*
  • Humans
  • Nutrition Policy