U.S. Customs agents intercepted a 24-ton shipment of Pakistani rice infested by a destructive crop pest this week at the port of Baltimore — just days before a federal quarantine on such imports was scheduled to begin.
The Customs and Border Protection agency reported that its agents found dead Khapra beetles, a species that has been showing up in rice imports with growing frequency, aboard a ship Tuesday. The agency said a scientist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed the identification of the insect the following day.
Restrictions on imports of rice from countries where Khapra beetle infestations are known to occur go into effect Saturday. They apply to more than two dozen Asian, African and Mediterranean countries from Bangladesh to Morocco. Commercial shipments of such rice must be certified to be have been treated and inspected to ensure they are beetle-free.