Now is the time for growers to ask USDA to remove Ralstonia solanacearum, Race 3, Biovar 2 (R3B2) from the bioterrorism list. USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is calling for public comments on its list of “Select Agents”—diseases that are listed under the Agricultrual Bioterrorism Protection Act of 2002. The deadline to respond is Monday, December 3, at midnight.
Detailed scientific comments have been submitted by leading Ralstonia researchers, according to the Society of American Florists (SAF), but USDA needs to hear from industry members related to the economic impact and the impact on the geranium industry, specifically, of continuing to have Ralstonia on the bioterrorism list.
This strain of the disease is already considered a quarantine pest, but adding it to the “select agent” list has inflicted an unnecessary and unjustified layer of protection which is actually harming agriculture and our growers. When R3B2 was accidentally introduced into the United States, there was no damage to the food supply. The geranium industry was damaged by the quarantine actions, not the disease. “No damage has occurred to the U.S. food supply, nor is there danger to human health that simple quarantine regulations cannot address,” says SAF’s Lin Schmale.
To submit comments, go to www.regulations.gov. Under “Optional Step 4,” choose “Docket ID” from the category drop-down list and enter APHIS-2007-0033 in the “Document ID” field.
Click on the icon at the far right to submit comments. Then just follow the instructions, entering information and clicking “next step” at the bottom of the page.
You will get a receipt number at the end of the process.
For more information, you may also contact Lin Schmale at [email protected] or at 703-838-5232.