Thursday, July 27, 2006

CBP Slugs It Out

An Agricultural Inspector at the airport in Seattle intercepted a slug that had stowed away in a container of Bulgarian mushrooms. This, however, was not your typical harmless Bulgarian slug. Apparently, it is the Lex Luther of slugs--the voracious Lehmannia nyctelia. This particular slug also carries nasty crop viruses. So, nice catch by the inspectors. Read all about it here.

All of which serves as a nice reminder that import compliance involves a number of agencies including the Department of Agriculture, the Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, Food & Drug, etc. Customs and Border Protection, by enforcing these agencies' rules, plays an important role in securing the food supply not just against intentional tampering but also from inadvertent threats such as slugs.

This sometimes has more immediate and practical consequences than one might expect. Here in Chicago, we lost many old trees to the dreaded Asian longhorn beetle. Now, we are loosing ash trees to the invading emerald ash borer. The men and women who pick through shipments of food have a tough job and the goal is not just to preserve landscaping. The farm economy depends on their protection to avoid outbreaks of exotic plant and animal diseases and pests.

So, the next time an inspector at the airport asks whether you are carrying any food, tell the truth. We all know you have a quart of kimchi in your carry-on bag.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have seen these monster slugs before. Damned Bulgarians.