News Release
California Department of Food and Agriculture
Media Contact:
Steve Lyle, Office of Public Affairs, (916) 654-0462,
Release #02-014
Pest identification process improved
SACRAMENTO-The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) reports that a pilot program using digital imaging equipment to identify pests at the Blythe, California border inspection station has proven a success.

The high-tech equipment is used to immediately transfer images of pest organisms found on inspected trucks to the laboratory in Sacramento. Before this test program was initiated, suspect pests taken from inspected trucks were sent by mail to Sacramento for positive identification, with the truck held for days while work was completed. Now, a CDFA lab expert in Sacramento can respond within a few minutes. If the pest is of no concern, the shipment is allowed to proceed to its destination.

“We’re pleased that the digital imaging equipment is accelerating the entire pest identification process”, said CDFA Secretary William (Bill) J. Lyons, Jr. “This technology allows CDFA to effectively do its job without undue delay to shippers and receivers of agricultural products.”

The pilot program was conducted during the recent beehive-shipping season and was very successful in expediting delivery of out-of-state bee shipments to California growers as well as other shipments. More than 20 shipments were allowed to proceed in a short period of time when the pests found on those shipments were identified by scientists as specimens that do not pose a significant threat to people, commerce or the environment. In one case, when a Red Imported Fire Ant was identified, the truck was allowed to undergo cleaning with super-heated water and allowed to proceed to its destination.

The Blythe inspection station tests have proven so successful that the Department hopes to have the digital imaging system installed at all major inspection stations around the state within two years.

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California Department of Food and Agriculture Office of Public Affairs
1220 N St., Ste. 214, Sacramento, CA 95814