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US suspends certain citrus imports from Berkane, Morocco

The December 14 detection by US Customs of live Medfly in a clementines shipment from Morocco’s Berkane region has provoked a suspension to certain citrus imports by the US from that area.

Recent inspections of clementines from Morocco’s Berkane region at their US entry port of Philadelphia found live Medfly larvae, thus prompting an import ban on sweet oranges, tangerines, clementines and mandarins from the region.

And under the December 23 Federal Order suspending the imports, all shipments of such citrus from other parts of Morocco must be certified as not having passed through Berkane province at any point along the supply chain.

According to the US Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) order, any shipments that were currently on the water bound for the US from Berkane would be allowed to enter the US if they arrive at a port of entry north of 39 degrees latitude and east of 104 degrees longitude by January 6, pass cold treatment and show no pest risk upon inspection.

Prior to the order, tangerine, clementine, mandarin, and sweet orange fruit were authorised for importation into the US from all regions of Morocco, subject to an operational work plan requiring orchard and packinghouse registration, Medfly trapping, packinghouse inspections (including fruit cutting), lot identification, cold treatment and inspection upon arrival.

However, the December 14 detection by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) of live Medfly on commercial consignments of clementines (Citrus reticulata) from the Berkane region has provoked a suspension to this system.

Medfly larvae (image: US Agricultural Research Service)

“This prohibition will remain until APHIS and Morocco’s national plant protection organization investigate and take necessary actions to mitigate the pest risk; this may include revision to the conditions for importation of tangerines, clementines, and mandarin fruit (Citrus reticulata) and sweet orange fruit from that region,” APHIS said.

It said the order aims to prevent the entry or introduction of the Medfly, a harmful plant pest, from Morocco into the US. Medfly is not known to be established in the US except in Hawaii and its introduction and establishment would pose a serious threat to US agriculture.

“It is a widespread tropical and subtropical species, ranging from South Mexico to Argentina, as well as throughout the Mediterranean, parts of Europe, and all of Africa. It is also established in Western Australia. It is estimated that the species would be able to establish populations in southern regions of the United States (Plant Hardiness Zones 9-11).”

Source: Federal Order
Medfly image at top: US Agricultural Research Service
Also see: US bans certain citrus imports from Morocco over medfly risk (Feb 1, 2016)

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Green light for brown-resistant GMO mushroom

Researcher Yinong Yang used the gene-editing tool CRISPR–Cas9 to give white button mushrooms an anti-browning trait that improves appearance and shelf life, as well as facilitating automated mechanical harvesting.

A white button mushroom genetically modified so it turns brown more slowly – thus having a longer shelf life – is on track to being sold in the United States.

And the fact that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has said it won’t regulate the mushroom as it does other genetically engineered (GE) modified organisms is seen as paving the way to the market for many more such products.

The anti-browning trait in this particular mushroom was introduced via science’s hot new tool CRISPR–Cas9, a promising but controversial gene-editing technique. Unlike some other forms of genetic modification, CRISPR does not introduce any foreign genetic material, it modifies pre-existing genes. In this case, Penn State University researcher Yinong Yang used it to provide an anti-browning trait that improves appearance and shelf life, as well as facilitating automated mechanical harvesting, in the common white button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus).

In a letter to Dr Yang, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), which is responsible for regulating certain GE organisms that are or could be plant pests, noted the mushrooms don’t contain introduced genetic material and are unlikely to be plant pests and thus won’t be subject to this regulation. They may, however, be subject to control by other regulatory authorities such as the FDA or EPA, it said.

According to Billy Roberts from market intelligence agency Mintel, the mushrooms demonstrate the speed of advancements in the genetic modification arena, while also providing a serious challenge to regulatory agencies, and could change the GMO debate in the US. Roberts said research shows consumers want to know if foods have GM ingredients and significant numbers indicate that they seek GMO-free claims on foods they buy.

Read more about this issue:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2016/04/18/why-this-genetically-modified-mushroom-is-bypassing-usda-regulation/
http://www.nature.com/news/gene-edited-crispr-mushroom-escapes-us-regulation-1.19754

Also see: Cucumbers that stay green longer

Image of Agaricus bisporus Zuchtchampignon by Böhringer Friedrich (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

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US opens to Ecuador’s blackberries, raspberries

As of May 9, fresh Andean blackberries and raspberries can be imported from Ecuador into the continental United States under what is known as a systems approach.

As of May 9, fresh Andean blackberries and raspberries can be imported from Ecuador into the continental United States under what is known as a systems approach.

Designed to protect against the introduction of quarantine pests into the US, in this case the systems approach would include requirements for commercial consignments of the berries to come from a pest free production site within a certified low pest prevalence area for fruit flies, and pest monitoring and trapping.

The fruit – fresh Andean blackberry (Rubus glaucus Benth) and raspberry (Rubus idaeus Linnaeus) – would also have to be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate issued by the national plant protection organization of Ecuador bearing an additional declaration stating that the consignment was produced and prepared for export in accordance with the requirements of the systems approach.

The three plant pests seen as having the highest pest risk potential in regard to the blackberry and raspberry fruit imports from Ecuador into the continental US are Anastrepha fraterculus (South American fruit fly), Ceratitis capitata (Mediterranean fruit fly, or Medfly), and Copitarsia decolora, a moth.

APHIS – the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service – published the final rule allowing for the imports on April 8 and it will be effective as of May 9.

Ecuador’s berry exports

According to APHIS documents, in 2005, Ecuador had approximately 4,275 ha of Andean blackberry and raspberry crops with a potential annual production of 6,840 tons of fruit. Its exports of fresh Andean raspberries and blackberries averaged 13 tons per year for 2000-06, but by 2007 had reached 90 tons.

The document says the quantity of Andean blackberry and raspberry expected to be imported into the US from Ecuador yearly is less than 180 metric tons, though the amount per species is not yet known.

(This estimate is based on the fact that the sea shipping containers typically used for estimating the volume of fresh fruit shipments are 40 feet long and hold approximately 40,000 pounds or 18.18 metric tons of fruit. According to an estimate given to APHIS by Ecuador’s government, the maximum quantity of fresh Andean blackberry and raspberry that Ecuador is expected to export annually to the US is less than 10 shipping containers per year, or less than 181.8 tons.)

Economic impact on US berry growers

Before the rule’s approval, APHIS analysed data to check the move would not have a significant economic impact on small domestic growers in the US.

It said that over 2008-12, the US imported 37.22 million pounds of fresh raspberries and over 2011-13 imported 63 million pounds of fresh blackberries.

Comparing the volume level of these imports with the expected annual imports from Ecuador of less than 180 tons, the Ecuadorian import share would be less than 0.4% of the U.S. import share for these fruits and not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities, it said.

In the 5 years to 2012, US raspberry and blackberry production for the fresh market averaged about 96 million pounds and 4 million pounds a year, respectively, for a total of about 100 million pounds, or about 45,372 tons.

(Because the Andean blackberry is more closely comparable to the loganberry (a blackberry-raspberry hybrid) than it is to the common blackberry (Rubus fruticosus), APHIS said it based its analysis on aggregate quantities of Rubus species commercially produced by the US.)

US raspberry production

According to APHIS, raspberries and blackberries are grown in at least 37 US states but just three – Oregon, Washington, and California – account for nearly all US commercial production of raspberries, blackberries and loganberries. The majority of red raspberry production occurs in California and Washington and Oregon grows more than 98% of US blackberries and nearly all of the nation’s commercial loganberries and boysenberries.

Raspberries rank third as the most popular berry in the US, coming after strawberries and blueberries.In 2013, California produced 94.1 million pounds of raspberries, valued at $239 million, and Washington, 68.1 million pounds valued at nearly $57.3 million (tables 2 and 3).

Over the five-year period, 2008-2012, the value of US raspberry production averaged $312 million. However, a significant portion of the US raspberry crop is processed; on average over the five-year period, about 56% (96 million pounds of 171 million pounds) were sold fresh.

The US is a net exporter of raspberry, and yet still imports a significant quantity, APHIS said.

Over the five years, 2008-2012, US raspberry imports averaged over 37 million pounds, supplying 48% of domestic fresh raspberry consumption

Mexico is the major source, supplying over 90% of US fresh raspberry and blackberry imports, followed by Guatemala with 4%, Canada with 2% and Chile with 1%.

US blackberry production

In 2013, 51 million pounds of blackberries were produced on 7,300 acres, of which 4 million pounds were sold as fresh berries and the remaining 47 million pounds sold as processed product, including frozen. The value of US blackberry production, 2008-2012, averaged $37 million dollars.

sources:

APHIS:
Analysis in Support of Certification that the Rule will not have a Significant Economic Impact on a Substantial Number of Small Entities
Importation of Fresh Andean Blackberry and Raspberry Fruit From Ecuador Into the Continental United States

 

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US ponders new rule for Chilean lemon imports

Chilean lemons would be allowed into the US without needing methyl bromide fumigation under a change being considered by the US Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (Aphis).

Chilean lemons would be allowed into the US without needing methyl bromide fumigation under a change being considered by the US Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (Aphis).

Fumigation is currently required to reduce the risk of infestation by the false red mite. But under the possible new rule, commercial consignments would be allowed into the US subject to the following ‘systems approach’:

  • the production sites where the lemons are grown would have to be registered annually with the national plant protection organisation (NPPO) of Chile and certified as low prevalence production sites,
  • shipments would be subject to post-harvest processing and phytosanitary inspection in Chile at an Aphis-approved inspection site,
  • any shipment not passing initial inspection could still be imported if fumigated with methyl bromide in Chile or at the post of first entry into the US,
  • all consignments would have to be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate from the NPPO of Chile containing an additional declaration that the fruit was produced according to the import requirements.

On or about April 4, Aphis will publish the proposed new rule and open a 60-day comment period. Once published, comments on the proposed rule can be submitted on-line here.

Source: Aphis stakeholder announcement

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US bans certain citrus imports from Morocco over medfly risk

Medfly (Ceratitis capitata) is not known to be established in the US, except for Hawaii, and would pose a serious threat to US agriculture.

Detections of live Mediterranean fruit flies (medflies) on cold-treated clementines from Morocco has led to a ban on import of tangerines, clementines, mandarins (Citrus reticulata), and sweet oranges (Citrus sinensis) from that country into the US with effect from February 8, the US Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS) has announced.

The ban will apply until APHIS and Morocco’s national plant protection organisation investigate and take “necessary actions to mitigate the pest risk.” 

APHIS said that prior to the Federal Order prohibiting such imports, tangerine, clementine, mandarin, and sweet orange fruit could be imported into the US if subjected to cold treatment and inspection upon arrival. “However, on January 13, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) inspections at the port of entry in Philadelphia detected live medfly larvae on commercial consignments of cold-treated clementines (Citrus reticulata) from Morocco.

Image of medfly (Ceratitis capitata) larva: by Daniel Feliciano, GFDL, via Wikimedia Commons

The agency said it is also prohibitingoverland in-bond transit movements of tangerine, clementine, mandarin, and sweet orange fruit south of 39° latitude and west of 104° longitude in the US. These prohibitions apply to all importation and movement, including commercial and non-commercial cargo, passenger baggage, international mail, and express courier shipments.”

According to the Federal Order, medfly (Ceratitis capitata) is not known to be established in the US, except for Hawaii, and would pose a serious threat to US agriculture.

Source: APHIS Prohibits Importation of Certain Citrus Fruit from Morocco due to Mediterranean Fruit Fly

Image of a female Mediterranean fruit-fly (Ceratitis capitata).: By Alvesgaspar under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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US proposes ‘systems approach’ for apple, pear imports from EU

On January 20, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will publish a proposed rule allowing fresh apple and pear imports from 8 EU countries under a systems approach that includes appropriate pest risk mitigations.

Public comment is being sought on a proposed rule under which the US would allow fresh apples and pears into the continental US from 8 EU countries – Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Poland Portugal, Spain and the Netherlands.

The US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) said the proposed new import requirements would replace the existing preclearance program with a systems approach that includes appropriate pest risk mitigation.

“The U.S. would only accept commercial shipments of fresh apple and pear fruit from these countries if the shipments are accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate, with additional declaration followed by port of entry inspection. The proposed risk mitigation measures for fresh apple and pear fruit consist of orchard and packing house certification, inspection of registered orchards twice a season, orchard pest control and sanitation, post-harvest safeguards, fruit culling, traceback, sampling, and cold treatment against Medfly in countries where the pest is known to occur.

The proposed rule is due to be published in the US Federal Register and be available for public comment as of Wednesday, January 20. The proposal can be read on the APHIS web site at:http://www.aphis.usda.gov/newsroom/federal_register/eu_apples_pears.pdf

Source: APHIS Seeks Comment on Proposed to Allow Fresh Apple and Pear Fruit to be Imported into the Continental U.S. from Eight EU Member Countries

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Spain works on accessing American and Asian markets

Argentina, Brazil, China, Japan, India, Peru and Thailand are among the markets that Spain’s fresh produce sector is actively exploring for new export opportunities.

Argentina, Brazil, China, Japan, India, Peru, Thailand and the United States are among the markets Spain’s fresh produce sector is actively exploring for new export opportunities.

Work on accessing these countries was discussed this week in Madrid by a special fruit and vegetables working group set up as part of the Spanish government’s internationalisation plan.

Fepex, the Spanish federation of associations of producers and exporters of fruit, vegetables, flowers and living plants, said in a press release that the 7th meeting of the working group saw further analysis of problems in accessing non-EU markets requiring phytosanitary protocols, as well as the receipt of updates on work underway to secure market access.

New proposals for opening up markets were also put to the meeting and Fepex said in this context it conveyed, among other proposals, the Spanish sector’s interest in access to Peru for stone fruit.

Priority markets and products

Fepex said among the priority markets and products being analysed by the working group regarding export opportunities are:

  • Argentina: onions, cherries, strawberry plants, apples, peaches, plums, stone fruit trees;
  • Brazil: strawberries, blueberries, strawberry plants, watermelon plant seeds, and aubergine (eggplant) seeds;
  • China: peaches, plums, grapes;
  • Japan: persimmons and tomatoes;
  • India: pip fruit and persimmons;
  • Thailand: stone fruit,
  • United States: Fepex said Spain can now export apricots and avocados to the US under an agreement between the US Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and Fepex. A requirement of the US was that Fepex set up a Trust Fund. Work continues on agreements with the US for the export of Spanish peaches, nectarines, plums, cherries, strawberry plants, pears and apples.

The fruit and vegetables working group, one of various groups established under the framework of the Spanish government’s Internationalisation Plan for the Agro-food Sector, includes representatives from the government, including the Spanish foreign trade office, and organisations representing the sector, such as Fepex.

Image: courtesy of Fepex

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US greenlights pepper imports from Ecuador

Fresh peppers from Ecuador may be imported into the United States effective November 23. Under a final rule published by the US Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) on October 23, the peppers will have to have been produced in accordance with a systems approach

Fresh peppers from Ecuador may be imported into the United States effective November 23.

Under a final rule published by the US Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) on October 23, the peppers will have to have been produced in accordance with a systems approach.

“That includes requirements for fruit fly trapping, pre-harvest inspections, production sites, and packinghouse procedures designed to exclude quarantine pests. The fruit will also be required to be imported in commercial consignments and accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate issued by the national plant protection organisation of Ecuador stating that the consignment was produced and prepared for export in accordance with the requirements in the systems approach,” it said.

The rule applies to the following peppers:

  • common bell pepper (Capsicum annuumL.),
  • locoto pepper (Capsicum baccatum L.),
  • habanero pepper (Capsicum chinense Jacq.),
  • tabasco pepper (Capsicum frutescens L.), and
  • manzano pepper (Capsicum pubescens Ruiz & Pav.).

According to the rule, fresh pepper yields in Ecuador expanded from about 12,522 pounds per hectare (pounds/ha) in 1996 to approximately 66,361 pounds/ha in 2006. APHIS estimates imports of no more than 10 containers (200 MT) of fresh peppers from Ecuador into the US annually.

“This quantity is equivalent to less than 0.02 percent of annual U.S. fresh pepper production. Similarly, the estimated quantity of fresh pepper imports from Ecuador (200 MT annually) is minimal compared to the total quantity of fresh peppers imported by the United States in recent years (800,000 MT annually).

“In the United States, the average value of bell pepper production per farm in 2012 was approximately $52,300, and the average value of chili pepper production per farm was approximately $20,700. Both levels are well below the small-entity standard of $750,000.”

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US to allow import of citrus from all parts of Peru

APHIS (the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection) has announced it s amending fruit and vegetable regulations to allow citrus fruit from any part of Peru to be imported into the continental United States, but with conditions.

APHIS (the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection) has announced it s amending fruit and vegetable regulations to allow citrus fruit from any part of Peru to be imported into the continental United States, but with conditions.

A fruit fly management program must be in place, including the use of bait spray applications, registration of places of production and citrus fruit shipments must be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate, APHIS said in a recent bulletin.

Under current regulations, the importation of citrus fruit to the US is allowed from five approved citrus-producing zones in Peru, subject to a systems approach.

“However, based on the findings of a pest list and commodity import evaluation document, we have determined that this systems approach also mitigates the plant pest risk associated with citrus fruit produced in all other areas of Peru,” APHIS said. “This action will allow the importation of citrus fruit from the entire country of Peru while continuing to provide protection against the introduction of plant pests into the continental United States.”

This final rule will be effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register and will be available as of today (Monday, September 14) at:
http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2015-0005

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US proposes accepting citrus from throughout Peru

Citrus fruit from the entire country of Peru could be imported into the continental United States under a change proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS).

Citrus fruit from the entire country of Peru could be imported into the continental United States under a change proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS).

Citrus imports are already allowed to the US from five approved citrus-producing zones in Peru subject to a ‘systems approach’. APHIS has determined this approach also mitigates the plant pest risk associated with citrus fruit produced in all other areas of Peru.

Currently, the regulations allow the import of fresh grapefruit, lime, mandarin, orange, tangerine or hybrids, sweet orange, and tangelo from the five approved citrus-producing zones in Peru.

The proposed rule would allow the import of these fruits from the entire country of Peru into the continental United States – excluding Hawaii and the U.S. Territories – under the same conditions currently in place.

APHIS said the change is expected to increase the area in Peru approved to produce citrus for export to the United States to about 1,500 hectares over 3 years. “Additional volumes of citrus expected to be shipped to the United States are 5,000 metric tons (MT) in the first year that the rule is in effect, 6,500 MT in the second year, and 8,000 MT in the third year. These quantities are equivalent to less than 1 percent of annual U.S. citrus production or U.S. citrus imports,” it said.

The comments period is open until June 30.

Find out more here.