The Secretary of State to the Spanish Ambassador (Padilla)
Excellency: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of Your Excellency’s communciation of April 22, 1930, concerning the importation into the United States from Spain of Almerian grapes. Mr. Amoedo’s note of November 8, 1929, with regard to this same question, has, since its receipt, received the earnest and careful consideration of the appropriate authorities of this Government.
In these communications request is made that grapes from Almeria be permitted importation into the United States after this fruit has been treated in the same manner as fruit now permitted shipment in interstate trade from the State of Florida. It is proposed that, in consideration of the raising by the United States of the present exclusion of these grapes, Spain will adopt technical systems similar to those used by this Government in respect of the destruction of the Mediterranean Fruit Fly (Ceratitis capitata Wied) as well as to the movement of fruit, will issue an official order similar to that issued by the United States Department of Agriculture in Quarantine Order No. 68 (Revised) and will put such an order into effect at the earliest possible date.
The Government of the United States would be happy to see the Spanish Government take steps looking to the complete eradication of the Mediterranean Fruit Fly from Spain. However, this Government feels that the present situation in Spain is so materially different from that now existing in the State of Florida that it could not without subjecting the American fruit industry to the danger of further ravages by this pest, accede to the request contained in the communications under reference. If Spain were to enter upon a campaign of eradication comparable in magnitude to that instituted by this Government in Florida, if that campaign should result in the complete eradication of the Mediterranean Fruit Fly from Spain and if at the same time Spain should adopt effective measures against the reintroduction of this pest into Spain, the Government of the United States would be happy to give consideration at that time to permitting the importation into the United States of Almerian grapes.
Immediately upon the discovery of the existence of the Mediterranean Fruit Fly in certain parts of Florida on April 6, 1929, the horticultural forces of the Federal Government and of the State of Florida as well as those of other southern and western States were mobilized in a campaign to check the spread of and eradicate this pest. In places where infestation was found “infested zones” two miles in diameter were established within which all host fruits and vegetables were immediately destroyed. During the summer so far as possible [Page 816] no host fruits and vegetables within these infested zones were allowed to ripen to the stage where they would be susceptible to the attack of the Fly. In addition to these requirements the strictest supervision was maintained over these areas and a poison bait spray was applied to the foliage of trees by or under the supervision of Federal agents. From the date of discovery until September 1, 1929, no host fruits or vegetables were allowed to move in interstate trade from the “infested zones.” All fruit that had moved prior to the discovery of the pest from the areas later found infested was traced to its destination and carefully inspected. If any of this fruit was found to be infested the entire shipment was destroyed by the appropriate Federal or State authorities. Every effort continues to be made not merely to check the spread of this pest, but to eradicate it completely. There has already been expended in this work more than $5,000,000. In addition to this, the Act making appropriations to the Department of Agriculture for the fiscal year 1931, provides and makes immediately available, $1,740,000. This Act further authorizes the use of $1,500,000 in event of an emergency.
Extensive and comprehensive studies and experiments have been carried out by the Federal and State authorities in order that all possible information in respect of the eradication and destruction of the Mediterranean Fruit Fly might be found. One of the results of this work has been the discovery that there are available methods of sterilizing citrus fruits either by the use of high temperature and humidity, or by an unusual degree of refrigeration. Whether or not these methods could be used with grapes is not known.
Following the discovery of the results of these methods of sterilization the appropriate authorities felt that fruit so treated could with safety be moved in interstate trade to certain northern States, and to the southern and western States during midwinter, provided that such fruit has been produced in areas in which no infestation had been found after intensive field inspections or in which infestation appears to have been eradicated. In addition to these inspections, the establishment of a non-host period and the application of poison bait sprays, all drop and cull fruits were picked up and destroyed and the packing houses were required to carry out sanitary measures. All infested fruit was promptly destroyed. No fruit or vegetables are permitted movement from areas known to be infested, nor may any shipments be made without the shipper first having obtained specific permission to do so. Permission to move sterilized fruit applies only to fruit sterilized under the supervision of inspectors of the United States Department of Agriculture and grown in areas believed to be entirely free from the pest. In other words sterilization is an added precaution designed to remove the residual risk remaining after careful inspection. Every effort is being made to eradicate completely the Mediterranean [Page 817] Fruit Fly from Florida, every safeguard is being practised to make impossible the spread of this pest to other areas in the United States and every safeguard against its introduction into the United States from foreign sources is being continued.
As has been indicated in the preceding paragraphs the movement of fruit into interstate commerce has been permitted not merely because it has been found that certain methods of sterilization, when practised, have proven fatal to eggs or larvae of the Mediterranean Fruit Fly, but because the areas from which this fruit was shipped have been subjected to severe inspections after a host free period has been maintained, the result being that fruit thus permitted movement was produced only in areas which, so far as it has been possible to determine, were completely free from any Mediterranean Fruit Fly infestation.
In these circumstances, and knowing as it does the disastrous results of fruit infestation by the Mediterranean Fruit Fly, the Government of the United States does not feel that in the light of the present extensive Mediterranean Fruit Fly infestation existing in Spain, it could with safety permit the importation into the United States of Almerian grapes even if these grapes had been sterilized in a manner similar to that now in use with Florida citrus fruits.