FPAA salutes approach to shared tomato virus threat

The USDA Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service has announced that they will begin to inspect tomato and pepper seed, transplants and fruit by Nov. 22 to protect against a plant virus known as Tomato Brown Rugose Virus, which has spread around the world since first being detected in Israel in 2014.

The virus does not affect humans or animals, but it is an immediate concern to agriculture. The border inspection of seeds, transplants, and fruit by CBP/APHIS is described as an “interim measure” until the agency reviews the science and determines how best to address this issue.

As authorities and industry pursue an integrated protective solution to this threat, the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas supports a science-based approach based on verifiable, transparent data and methodology.

“Thankfully authorities at USDA and the corresponding agencies in Mexico and Canada have been coordinating for several weeks on an integrated approach,” said FPAA President Lance Jungmeyer. “USDA said it urgently wants to establish the science, and we agree. Along with the regulatory agencies, the industry looks forward to learning how we all can help stop this plant disease.”

The FPAA is working with USDA to minimize any delays or negative business impacts from the inspections. Tomato and pepper supplies should remain robust as producers throughout Mexico being to harvest their winter crops.

ToBRFV is not a food safety threat to humans nor animals. This is a virus that impacts specific plants and impacts fruit quality. To protect agriculture operations, Canada, Mexico, the United States, and the European Union have implemented procedures to identify and eradicate the virus and to minimize the spread of the virus. Mexico has had measures in place to since last year when the virus was first detected.

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