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Whether in shipments by land or by air, invasive pests are unintentional hitchhikers attempting to enter the United States from foreign countries, hidden within untreated solid wood packaging materials. This continual threat keeps the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Agriculture Specialists alert to signs that pallets, skids, boxes and crates used in shipping imported goods may be infested. Case in point; Detroit Metropolitan Airport between January 20 and 28, and the Port of Laredo, Texas on February 24.
Inspections by CBP experts at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport during the month of January resulted in 13 instances of obvious signs of insects, typically tunnels in the wood created by wood boring insects. And between January 20 and 28, six inspections resulted in finding actual live insects. All shipments found to contain insects were refused entry and returned to their country of origin. A costly error on the part of the shipper.
On February 24 at two of Laredo, Texas Ports of Entry from Mexico, CBP officials found nine wood boring pests in nine hours of work. The findings occurred when inspecting a broad range of inbound shipments that use solid wood for packaging, from auto parts to hexagonal netting to telephone cables.
This intercept scenario is played out not only in the U.S., but at major ports of entry around the world. The increased global movement of products and subsequent use of solid wood packaging items (pallets, skids, boxes, crates, etc.) has provided an avenue for forest pests indigenous to one region of the world to be transported to another non-native country. These invasive pests can wreak havoc when undetected and left uncontrolled in a new ecosystem. To stem the flow of potentially devastating forest pests, more than 150 countries adopted the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) ISPM 15 Standard in 2002, which requires all solid wood packaging used in export to be stamped with the official IPPC mark to show verification that it has been fumigated or heat treated, per the regulation. By 2005, most every industrialized country implemented and began enforcement of the standard.
While the vast majority of shipments using wood packaging are in compliance with this International standard and are propertly treated, marked, and are pest-free, CBP Agriculture experts remain on daily watch to turn back any pest-laden potential threats.