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Friday, February 10, 2012

Border Control Cracks Down on Immigration of Red Roses

Posted By on Fri, Feb 10, 2012 at 12:15 PM

Red roses will be getting the pat-down by border control this Valentine's Day to ensure those flowers you give your honey come Tuesday are free of nasty bugs.

The U.S. Customs and Border Control will continue stopping every red rose over the weekend, scanning to see if any of those flowers are smuggling unwanted pests across the California border.

Since January, border control has been cutting to the root of every rose, screening for hitchhiking bugs that could harm our local flower industry. "CBP agriculture specialists are on the frontline, protecting U.S. agriculture and natural resources from foreign origin plant pests and diseases at our nations' borders," said Kevin Harriger, executive director for CBP's Agriculture Programs and Trade Liaison office.

During the Valentine's Day season last year, Border Patrol specialists stopped more than 3,400 plant pests from traveling into the United States via cut roses, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. 

Most flowers sold in San Francisco are imported from the southern border, or grown in the state. However, flowers grown in South America pass through the California border at Otay Mesa -- one of the top 10 cut-flower import stations in the nation. Meanwhile, San Francisco ports receive flowers from Asia and Thailand, and there's no telling what type of insects could be hidden in flowers there, which is why agents aren't taking any chances.

"We remove any bug," said Edward Low, chief supervisory CBP officer in San Francisco. "Threatening or non-threatening."

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Erin Browner


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