SAF And AmericanHort Ask Government To Take Ralstonia Off ‘Select Agent’ List

SAF And AmericanHort Ask Government To Take Ralstonia Off ‘Select Agent’ List

r3bv2 diseaseThe Society of American Florists (SAF) and AmericanHort want Ralstonia solanacearum, Race 3, Biovar 2 (R3Bv2) taken off a list of animal and plant diseases that the federal government has determined could be misused as terrorist weapons. SAF and AmericanHort submitted formal comments together on the horticulture industry’s science-backed position on the matter.

According to Lin Schmale, SAF’s senior director of government relations, extensive research has proven R3Bv2 does not belong on the government’s list of animal and plant diseases that can be misused as terrorist weapons.


Every two years, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) requests a public review of the Select Agent list, asking for comments on whether plant or animal diseases should be taken off the current list or added to it.

In the floral industry, R3Bv2 can have a devastating impact on geranium (pelargonium) crops, Schmale says, and both the potato and tomato industries also could be adversely affected by introduction of the disease. Years ago, however, SAF, working with growers, regulators and researchers, developed protocols for helping growers ensure disease-free geranium crops.

SAF and AmericanHort’s comments stated in part that “the extensive research … has shown that the original reasons for including R3Bv2 on the list are not valid. Those reasons included its supposed survivability at cold temperatures, its supposed unique ability to infect potatoes at low temperatures and its supposed ability to cause an economically damaging disease outbreak under North American climate conditions. All of those reasons have been disproved by subsequent research. Therefore, there is no longer any justification for keeping R3Bv2 on the list.”

For more information, contact Schmale at [email protected].