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EU restricts imports of plants from China

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The European Union has decided to impose stricter measures for the import from China of plants hosting the harmful citrus long horn beetle, an insect that is not native to Europe and can attack a wide range of plants, such as maple, citrus and apple trees as well as birches, beeches, and willows.

The Standing Committee on Plant Health (SCPH) voted yesterday afternoon in favour of a proposal of the European Commission to amend this Decision and strengthen the measures. The main new measure concerns the restriction of imports of host plants of the beetle from a limited list of six nurseries to a revised list of four nurseries and an import prohibition of maple trees (Acer sp.) until 30 April 2012.

In addition, in order to reinforce the chances to detect the insect, destructive sampling to see whether larvae are present inside the plants, will be carried out systematically on each lot of host plants at export from China and at entry into the EU. Destructive sampling is an inspection procedure where a certain percentage of the imported plants are cut.

In the past, EU Member States had reported, on various occasions, the presence of the beetle in plants imported from China. The insect appeared in some locations in the Union, mainly in Italy and in the Netherlands. The beetle was again spotted at the beginning of March 2010 in the Netherlands on plants imported from two nurseries in China. The situation raised great concerns as this pest is a real threat for the European parks and forests.

The past outbreaks forced the affected Member States to conduct major and costly eradication campaigns. Therefore, it was decided that the existing emergency measures have to be strengthened in order to ensure that no infected plants are brought into the EU.

More information on the Community plant health regime

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