Christmas In July: New Bugs from China

A dispute between the United States and China is threatening to make the Christmas holidays more frosty than usual—and it’s only July. A relative to the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) has been discovered in a shipments of holiday lighting displays and Chinese mini-trees made of wood during routine inspections at American ports of entry.

According to the USDA, $200 million has already be spent to rid this country of the ALB and it does not want to have to spend more money on another pest species.

U.S. representatives to the World Trade Organization recently told a special committee meeting that its inspectors have found beetles in 418 consignments of wooden products coming in from China. That is about one in 50 of all shipments checked since it began inspections in 2002. Last year the USDA issued a recall notice of specific holiday products in the New York and Chicago areas to prevent any additional spread of ALB and says it will continue its import ban until Chinese exporters adopt “adequate mitigation measures.”

These measures would include adhering to the ISPM-15 rule that all wood packaging material entering or passing through the United States must be either heat treated or fumigated with methyl bromide.

U.S. trade officials told China the scale of its beetle findings justifies further visits by U.S. inspectors to Chinese tree product factories and the completion of a pest risk assessment.

Meanwhile, Chinese officials said the measures already jointly undertaken by the United States and Chinese authorities in response to the interceptions of beetles on wooden Christmas trees were sufficient to allow trade to resume.

Source: USDA

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