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Alien fungus found on shipment from Philippines

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 10:22 a.m. HST, Aug 21, 2013

Federal agents confiscated and destroyed a plant-pathogenic fungus found on brooms made from palms and being imported from the Philippines.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists on Aug. 9 intercepted a plant-pathogenic fungus on a handicraft made of native palm parts while examining a cargo container from the Philippines. The fungus was discovered in a shipment of “native brooms” made from Cocos nucifera sp., a palm species.  

The discovery of an unidentified fungus and two other plant disease symptoms in the shipment prompted federal authorities to reload and seal the container until positive identification could be made. 

This was the first time the fungus was intercepted in the U.S.

Specimens were submitted to the U.S. Animal Plant Health Inspection Service in Honolulu. 

The fungus was identified as Guignardia cocogena (Cooke), which is not known to occur in the United States, and is the first time Guignardia on a palm has been identified.

To prevent the possibility of a new plant disease becoming established in Hawaii and the U.S., the shipment was destroyed by steam sterilization. 

Hilda Montoya, assistant port director for U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Honolulu, said: “This is once again an example of the great work our agriculture specialists do in cargo protecting domestic agriculture industry from pests and diseases. This is one of the top priorities in our mission to protect the homeland and our economic security.”

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