Experts examine floral shipments for dangerous pests

US Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists are examining flower shipments being imported for Valentine's Day. (John Mizwa)

February 10, 2011 9:10:01 AM PST
US Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists have been examining flower shipments being imported for Valentine's Day. Their job is to ensure that the flowers coming into the US are pest and disease free. Insects and diseases found in cut flowers arriving from foreign countries can be a serious threat to US agriculture and our ecosystem.

"The careful attention to detail that our agriculture specialists put into each examination enables them to identify even the smallest pests," said CBP Service Port Director Terry Estell. "They are enthusiastic about our mission to safeguard the United States from dangerous pests and plant diseases."

CBP processed approximately 320.8 million cut flowers during the 2010 Valentine's season, which runs from January 1 to February 14. The majority of cut flower shipments are imported from South America, mainly Colombia, with 211.9 million stems or 66 percent, followed by Ecuador with 70.5 million stems or 33 percent.

Flower shipments found to contain potential pests are held by CBP until a USDA entomologist or pathologist makes an official determination. If it is determined that a shipment has a pest of concern, the importer will be given the option of re-exporting the shipment, chemical treatment, or destruction of the items.


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