San Diego - U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists from the Port of San Diego last week intercepted noxious weed seeds and prevented them from entering the country on a maritime container of bananas.
On Tuesday, February 2, CBP agriculture specialists at the seaport offloaded a shipment of bananas for inspection and upon completion, conducted an exterior inspection of the container where they discovered two seeds on the refrigeration unit.
The seeds were submitted to USDA, which identified them as Imperata cylindrical; commonly know as "cogongrass," an actionable pest. Cogongrass is designated as a federal noxious weed and classified as a highly invasive weed species.
Cogongrass is considered one of the top 10 worst weeds in the world, reported by 73 countries as a pest in a total of 35 crops (Holm et al. 1977). According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Cogongrass forms dense stands resulting in the almost total displacement of native plants that are important to wildlife and represent a significant fire hazard on public conservation lands and agricultural forests.
This marks the first time cogongrass has been discovered in any shipment entering the country in the San Diego and Imperial Valley Counties.
The USDA determines which pests are classified as "actionable." If introduced into the United States, actionable pests have the potential to significantly harm the food supply because they are either non-existent in the U.S. or currently have very limited distribution in the country.
Agriculture specialists protect the United States from the threat of invasive pests and diseases with inspection and prevention efforts designed to keep prohibited agricultural items from entering the United States. These items, whether in commercial cargo or with a person entering the country, could cause serious damage to America's crops, livestock, environment and potentially public health.