Drive to increase pest awareness

Food & Environment Research Agency focuses on citrus longhorn beetle for emergence season.

The Food & Environment Research Agency (FERA) has announced plans to increase public awareness of citrus longhorn beetle as the pest's emergence season begins.

FERA plant health policy team leader Richard McIntosh said: "I think there is a good awareness among the growers, but there's no harm in reminding them that we are now approaching the emergence season.

"We also want to spread the message more widely and get the general public looking for the pest - if infected plants have been sold and they are in people's gardens, it's there that they will be spotted."

He added that the EU was reviewing the legislation surrounding citrus longhorn beetle and was looking at what requirements were needed for both isolated cases and outbreaks.

"We have now had expertise in both outbreaks and isolated findings and we are looking at separating out the legislation," he explained. "We are also looking at the most recent scientific evidence to make sure it's up to date."

CITRUS LONGHORN BEETLE TIMELINE

2008: First discovered in private gardens and on imported Acer in Guernsey.

2009: Two findings reported in private gardens.

Feb 2010: Outbreak confirmed in Boskoop, Netherlands.

May 2010: EU-wide import ban on maple trees from China.

Jul-Aug 2010: Further findings in the UK including Rutland, deemed "isolated case".

Present Legislation under review.

BEMISIA TABACI - Consultation on protected zone status

On the protected zone status of Bemisia tabaci (tobacco whitefly), which has undergone a consultation, McIntosh said a decision was due soon.

The consultation, looking at whether B. tabaci should remain under protected zone status, met varied reactions. NFU edibles members wanted to retain the status, but ornamentals growers' opinions were more mixed.

The agreed NFU position was to "maintain the protected zone status and continue with a policy of eradication of all populations".

This was mirrored by the HTA. Policy manager Gary Scroby said: "The protected zone status has played a significant role in improving the pest and disease status of young plants entering the UK. Without it, the potential financial and reputational costs to the ornamentals industry would be substantial."


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