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What are the social and economic implications of disease in plants and animals?

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There are a range of social and economic implications of disease in plants and animals. Some of the main ones are outlined in the points below. Usually, the extent of these problems will depend upon how severe and widespread the disease is. It can also be dependent upon how important the animals or plants are to humans, or where they are positioned in the natural food chain.
  • Effects on crop farmers
If a disease affects the crops of a farmer, the farmer will naturally lose out in terms of income. If the disease wipes out the whole crop, he could be facing a year of poverty. Plant diseases can make the income generated by a farmer highly versatile, which is a negative point particularly considering the profession is a difficult one anyway. Economically, in an agricultural area incomes could drop and shops and businesses could face lower profits.

  • Food shortages
Diseases in both plants and animals could cause food shortages; smaller quantities of meats and edible crops will be produced. This has a significant economic impact, as the drop in supply leads to a rise in the price of food. Some families may therefore be unable to afford basic items, particularly in poorer countries. This could lead to starvation and malnutrition.
  • Health effects
In a minority of cases, animal diseases have been known to adapt to effect humans. For instance, this phenomenon has been seen in the recent outbreak of swine flu, and the foot and mouth disease in cattle a few years ago. Potentially, these diseases could turn out to be both dangerous and contagious, and could even lead to a pandemic crisis. Many people could lose their lives or be affected by the outbreak.

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