Consumers should expect steady supplies as farmers and agricultural scientists in Canada, Mexico and the U.S. collaborate toward a solution

NOGALES, Ariz. (For immediate release, Nov. 18, 2019) – The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has announced that they will begin to inspect tomato and pepper seed, transplants and fruit by Nov. 22 to protect against a plant virus known as Tomato Brown Rugose Virus (ToBRFV) which has spread around the world since first being detected in Israel in 2014.

The virus does not affect humans or animals, but it is an immediate concern to agriculture.  The border inspection of seeds, transplants, and fruit by CBP/APHIS is described as an “interim measure” until the agency reviews the science and determines how best to address this issue.

As authorities and industry pursue an integrated protective solution to this threat, the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas supports a science-based approach based on verifiable, transparent data and methodology.

“Thankfully authorities at USDA and the corresponding agencies in Mexico and Canada have been coordinating for several weeks on an integrated approach,” said FPAA President Lance Jungmeyer. “USDA said it urgently wants to establish the science, and we agree. Along with the regulatory agencies, the industry looks forward to learning how we all can help stop this plant disease.”

The FPAA is working with USDA to minimize any delays or negative business impacts from the inspections. Tomato and pepper supplies should remain robust as producers throughout Mexico being to harvest their winter crops.

Some Facts About ToBRFV

  • Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus (ToBRFV) is a plant virus that has emerged globally.  ToBRFV was first identified in Israel in 2014 and has moved into Jordan, the European Union, China, and the Americas, including the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

  • ToBRFV is not a food safety threat to humans nor animals.  This is a virus that impacts specific plants and impacts fruit quality.

  • To protect agriculture operations, Canada, Mexico, the United States, and the European Union have implemented procedures to identify and eradicate the virus and to minimize the spread of the virus.

  • Mexico has had measures in place to since last year when the virus was first detected.

    • In September of 2018, SENASICA established regulatory measures for the importation of seeds, in vitro material, plants, seedlings and cuttings of tomatoes, peppers and eggplant.

    • SENASICA officials continue to conduct field inspections and testing for the virus.

    • SENASICA also continues to train Plant Health Committees and producers across the country so they can apply preventive measures and detection and eradication efforts should the virus occur in their crops.