Colombia has become the fourth South American country in recent months to threaten a quarantine of Washington fruit allegedly to stop the spread of damaging insects.
Kraig Naasz of the Northwest Horticultural Council in Yakima said there is no scientific justification for a quarantine, which would require expensive fumigation of U.S. produce.
The threat affects Northwest apple and pear shippers the most since the two commodities make up the bulk of produce shipped to Colombia.
Colombia is second only to Brazil among South American buyers of Washington fruit. Colombia has imported 200,000 boxes of Washington apples and 100,000 boxes of pears in the past four months.
Naasz said the detection of Oriental fruit fly in California last October prompted the Colombia threat. Colombian authorities claim the fly doesn’t exist in their country. They fear the insect will be carried in on U.S. produce.
Brazil, Argentina and Ecuador in recent months also had threatened quarantines before negotiators persuaded them to keep their borders open to U.S. fruit.