Pests, parasites and pathogenic agents have exerted a notable influence on the process of economic development of pre-industrial Europe, in view of their influence on the health, longevity and reproduction of human beings, plants and animals. On each occasion man has reacted to biological uncertainty with responses that were public or private, formal or informal and differed in both efficacy and cost. Success has always been partial, and dependent on experience, knowledge and the investment of economic resources.
These reciprocal influences have never been allocated an appropriate or convincing place in the institutional model or those of Smith, Malthus, Ricardo or Marx, typically exploited to describe and explain the flux and reflux of the economic development of pre-industrial Europe.
In these proceedings of Study Week promoted by the Fondazione Datini, the leading experts in the sector have undertaken to analyse, exemplify and discuss the precise nature of the complex interactions between economic and biological processes and agents. Adopying a stimulating, innovative and interdisciplinary approach, they appraise the degree to which such processes acted in reciprocal independence, whether there was a significant co-evolution and what prospects there are for developing explanatory models that better grasp the essentially bilateral nature of such interactions.
F. Datini International Institute of Economic History, Italy