Sampling programme ends after beetle outbreak

The Food & Environment Research Agency (FERA) has concluded its destructive sampling programme, introduced in the wake of the citrus longhorn beetle outbreak in Boskoop, Holland.

A total of 1,000 host plants from Boskoop have now been destroyed, with no beetles found. FERA plant health policy representative Justin Dixon said: "The destructive sampling has now finished and the situation will be discussed again at the next European plant health standing committee meeting, which has been rearranged for 10 May."

Last month's meeting was cancelled because of the disruption to air travel caused by the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud. An emergency European Nursery Association meeting was also cancelled due to the ash.

Dixon said FERA policy would remain unchanged until the meeting but stressed that the UK delegation would once again "support any action that prevents the pest from entering the EU".

In a statement on its website, FERA said: "The FERA Plant Health & Seeds Inspectorate (PHSI) will continue to monitor for symptoms of citrus longhorn beetle in plants of all origins as part of its routine surveillance programme.

"For any direct imports from outside the EU, we will continue to destructively sample consignments of host species. Members of the horticulture industry and the general public are encouraged to continue monitoring any potential hosts for symptoms of citrus longhorn beetle and to report any suspicious signs to the PHSI."

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