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USDA TO BEGIN ASIAN GYPSY MOTH PROJECT IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST

 USDA TO BEGIN ASIAN GYPSY MOTH PROJECT IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST
 WASHINGTON, March 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Acting Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman today declared an emergency in Oregon and Washington because of an infestation of Asian gypsy moths (AGM), the Washington State Department of Agriculture announced today.
 Veneman made available $14.4 million in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) funds to help in a cooperative state/federal program to eradicate the pests from the Pacific Northwest, beginning in April.
 "The Asian gypsy moth, a voracious pest of trees, was found in detection traps in the Puget Sound region of Washington state, along the Columbia River near Portland, Ore., and in the Canadian province of British Columbia," said Veneman. "The introduction of this exotic pest poses a major threat to forests on the North American continent."
 B. Glen Lee, deputy administrator for plant protection and quarantine with USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, said the AGM is similar to the European gypsy moth, which regularly defoliates 4 million acres a year in Northeastern forests. In 1981, a major outbreak year, the pest defoliated more than 12 million acres, causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damage and significant harm to the environment.
 "If AGM became established in the abundant forests of the Pacific Northwest, the damage could be much more extensive and costly, not to mention the long-term effects on the environment," Lee said.
 To coordinate U.S. and Canadian eradication efforts, USDA and Agriculture Canada formed an AGM Coordinating Committee to consult regularly, develop common approaches, establish similar policies and share information.
 AGM eradication programs will use the naturally occurring Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) bacteria that produces a caterpillar-specific toxin.
 The Asian strain of gypsy moth was first identified in North American late in 1991. Ships infested with AGM egg masses probably introduced the pest to the United States and Canada while visiting West Coast ports from Asia at a time when newly hatched larvae could be blown ashore, said Lee.
 -0- 3/12/92
 /CONTACT: Craig Weckesser of the Washington State Department of Agriculture, 206-586-8494/ CO: Washington State Department of Agriculture; U.S Department of
 Agriculture ST: Washington IN: SU:


LM -- SE008 -- 7508 03/12/92 15:54 EST
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Date:Mar 12, 1992
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