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The Risk From Imported Pests



Agriculture is a big business. More than $1 billion worth of agricultural products are traded internationally every year. But countries may put their own palnt at risk when thay import fruits, vegetables, wood and other products. As products are unloaded from ships and planes, some unwelcome visitors may find a new home.

The stink bug is one example. This pest eats fruits crops. It is believed to have arrived in the US from China. Othe pests include fruit fly eggs or fungal spores. Some well-known threats include wheat rust, African army worms, cassave bacterial blight and the european grapevine moth. The list goes on.

To fight the problem there are satandars under the intertianl plant protection convention. Crag Feechock is the coordinator of the treaty. He says the purpose of the convention is to develop standars for the trade of plants and plant products. The convention was first approved in 1952. It is recognized as one of the three bodies that set standards for the World Trade Organization. New standards for pest risk anylysics were released at convention's annual meeting in Rome.These give greater guidance for deciding whether an imported plant might be a threat to cultivated or wild plants.

Craig Fedchock says changed were also made to satandards for wood packating material. Wood packaging can carry pests, like beetles, that can harm native forests. Agriculturla epsts are believed to cause billions of dollars in damage each year. Getting an estimate is difficult. Countries may not want their trading partners to known the full extent of the problem.