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Pests are living organisms that damage and destroy agricultural produce. Pests include mobile threats such as locusts and other insects, viruses, fungi, and bacteria. The threat of pests has existed for as long as humanity has practiced agriculture, and also affects nonagricultural growth. The consequences of pest infestation are physical and economic, as well as psychological, resulting from fear and panic spread by the influx of pests. Those pests that have led to animal disease, including bovine spongiform encephalopathy and foot-and-mouth disease, have led to the mass slaughter of livestock.

Pests can be very destructive. The Phytophthora fungus, which arrived in Ireland from North America in the 1840s, stimulated blight among the potato crop for several successive years. The Irish population, especially the rural poor, ...

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