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Georgia Ag. Dept. Stops Sale of Geraniums From Michigan Due to Disease Risk.

ATLANTA -- ATLANTA, Feb. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- The Georgia Department of Agriculture has stopped the sale and movement of geraniums from a Michigan supplier because the plants may be carrying a serious plant disease included in the Agricultural Bioterrorism Protection Act.

This morning Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Tommy Irvin instructed state inspectors to stop the sale and movement of all geranium plugs (rooted cuttings) from the Glass Corners, Michigan, greenhouse of Goldsmith Plants, Inc., following notification from the U. S. Department of Agriculture.

The geraniums may be infected with a strain of Southern Bacterial Wilt (Ralstonia solanacerum race 3 biovar 2), an organism included in the Agricultural Bioterrorism Protection Act of 2002. The disease is listed in the Act because it is not established in the United States and is a major threat to an agricultural commodity. This particular strain of Southern Bacterial Wilt is a serious threat to Irish potatoes, and if established in the country could lead to a quarantine by Canada and other countries that purchase seed potatoes from U.S. growers. The disease also affects other plants, especially solanaceous plants such as tomatoes, tobacco, peppers and eggplants.

"While other strains of Southern Bacterial Wilt are found in Georgia, we want to do all we can to keep this strain out," said Commissioner Irvin. "Although we do not have a substantial Irish potato industry in the state, we do have other crops this could affect. And we want to do our part to help protect all of American agriculture."

The geraniums were sent to 25 locations in the state. The geraniums will be isolated and monitored for any signs of infection.

CONTACT: Arty Schronce or Jackie Sosby, +1-404-656-3689, both of Georgia Department of Agriculture

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Geographic Code:1U3MI
Date:Feb 14, 2003
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