Insects, Diseases Invaded After 9/11

Tiny terrors infect food supply, bump prices
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 10, 2011 7:13 PM CDT
Activists protest the spraying for the light brown apple moth during a rally held at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., on March 10, 2008.   (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

(Newser) – America's obsession with terrorism after 9/11 has left our borders prone to the tiniest of invaders, an AP study finds. Focused on guns and bombs, inspectors have overlooked foreign insects and plant diseases that menace the country's food supply, send prices soaring, and leave pesticide residue on food. Among our worst attacks: 19 fruit fly infestations that prompted spraying and quarantines in California, and a New Zealand moth that survived 1,600 pounds of pesticides.

"Whether they know it or not, every person in the country is affected by this," says one entomologist; one study puts the total annual cost at $120 billion. The security shift from agriculture to terror also prompted a culture war at border posts, where gun-toting Homeland Security agents took precedence over scientists—triggering hundreds of resignations. Officials are trying to right the imbalance, but critics in Congress say the damage has already been done.

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