Beginning in 1878 with the International Phylloxera Convention of Berne, international conventions have sought to relieve national agricultural industries from two specific burdens. First, by defining phytosanitary practices to be enforced by national plant protection services, these conventions attempted to prevent the introduction of plant diseases and pests into national territories from which they were previously absent. Second, by standardizing these practices—especially through the design of a unique certificate of inspection—the conventions attempted to eliminate barriers such as quarantines affecting international agricultural trade. The succession of phytopathological conventions seemed to epitomize the coalescence of an international community against agricultural pests. What actually coalesced was bio-geopolitics wherein plant pathologists and economic entomologists from North America and the British Empire questioned the so-called internationality of the environmental and economic specificities of continental European agriculture, embodied in "international" conventions. Although an international phenomenon, the dissemination of agricultural pests provided opportunities for cooperation on a strictly regional albeit transnational basis that pitted bio-geopolitical spaces against each other. This article retraces the formation of these spaces by analyzing the deliberations of committees and congresses that gathered to define an international agricultural order based on the means to prevent the spread of plant disease and pests.

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