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News Release

California Department of Food and Agriculture

Media Contacts: Steve Lyle, CDFA Public Affairs, (916) 654-0462, Jay Van Rein, (916) 654-0462

California Department of Food and Agriculture
Release #08-019
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Export markets to be impacted

SACRAMENTO – Revised and expanded regulations put into place in both Canada and Mexico will make it substantially more difficult for growers in counties infested by the light brown apple moth—an invasive species—to certify their crops as “free from” the moth, which is a requirement for exports to be accepted in those countries.  These heightened restrictions on California growers are indicative of the serious measures taken by trading partners to keep the most significant invasive pests out.

Farmers throughout California are evaluating the new regulations to assess their impacts. In general, the more stringent requirements call for growers to conduct costly, labor-intensive trapping efforts on any agricultural field inside an infested county — even if that field is miles away from the infested area.  Previously, certification at the packinghouse was deemed acceptable.  The new requirements may also lead to additional pesticide applications to ensure that growers can continue to ship their goods to trading partners.

“Since we first detected the light brown apple moth, one of our primary concerns has been the affect it would have on California’s food supply,” said CDFA Secretary A.G. Kawamura. “These new regulations demonstrate the complex threat posed by the moth not only to our environment and habitat, but also to our ability to produce a reliable and sustainable food supply. As growers incur more costs to meet export requirements, it has a negative impact throughout the entire food distribution system. The best way to reverse that is by eradicating this pest.”

The light brown apple moth is native to Australia and is found in New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Hawaii.  The range of host plants is broad with more than two-thousand plant species known to be susceptible to attack by this pest, and more than 250 crops. It threatens California’s environment—including cypress, redwood and oak trees—by destroying, stunting or deforming young seedlings and damaging new growth in the forest canopy. The moth also feeds on host plants favored by a number of endangered species; spoils the appearance of ornamental plants; and injures citrus, grapes, and deciduous fruit tree crops.

A USDA study indicates that, if California becomes generally infested, the moth could cause billions of dollars in crop damage annually. Additionally, it would hinder export opportunities and interstate commerce due to quarantine restrictions, as demonstrated by the action of Canada and Mexico.  California agricultural exports to the two countries totaled more than $2.4 billion in 2006.    

A cooperative eradication program run jointly by CDFA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is already underway to suppress and eradicate infestations in nine counties along California’s Central Coast and Bay Area.  Since its detection in February 2007, the Light Brown Apple Moth has been found and quarantines have been enacted in the counties of Monterey, Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, Alameda and Solano.

Small, isolated infestations detected last year in Los Angeles and Napa counties have already been eradicated. Twist ties that emit moth pheromone were utilized in both counties.  In Santa Barbara and Sonoma counties, where single moths have been detected, intensive trapping is underway to learn if there are more.

For more information on the light brown apple moth, please visit

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