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APHIS implementing new requirements for the importation of fresh blueberries from Chile

The Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture that is responsible for protecting animal health, animal welfare and plant health, has issued a notice that it is implementing new requirements for the importation of fresh blueberries from Chile into the United States, according to Miami-based Customized Brokers, a division of Crowley Maritime Corp.

Customized Brokers noted that this action is in response to multiple detections of the European Grapevine Moth, Lobesia botrana. Shipments that are already in transit to the U.S. will not require fumigation at this time, but will go through an enhanced inspection protocol at the port of entry.

Fumigation will, however, be required for shipments that are still out in the field in Chile. Fumigation for the insect will not be conducted in the U.S. because fumigation protocol is not available domestically at this time. Fumigation procedures must, therefore, occur in Chile prior to export.

According to a Michigan State University's invasive species fact sheet, the Lobesia botrana, also commonly known as the European grape moth, European vine moth, grape berry moth and vine moth, occurs in central and southern Europe, northern Africa, the Middle East, central Asia, Japan and Thailand. However, the insect was found in Chile prior to 2010.

The current U.S. quarantine status is that the Lobesia botrana has been intercepted at U.S. ports of entry, including Port Huron & Detroit, 20 times between 1984 and 2003. In 2008 USDA-APHIS listed the insect as an exotic organism of high invasive risk to the United States.

Although the moth is best known as a pest of grapes, it is polyphagous, in that it is able to feed on various kinds of food. It has a wide host range that spans across 27 plant families. Other plant hosts of the moth include carnations, black berries, cherries, currants, lilacs, nectarines and plums.