December 11, 2008
Right Side News 
Philadelphia – As many as 100 attendees representing the international garbage handling industry, and federal and state agriculture agencies discussed animal disease risks posed by international garbage during a forum hosted by Customs and Border Protection on Tuesday at the U.S. Customhouse here.

Keynote speakers included Dr. Gary Smith, chief of Epidemiology and Public Health at the University of Pennsylvania; Dr. Aliza Simeone, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Animal Health and Diagnostic Services; and Dr. Terry Morris, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Hosting the event were Michael Lovejoy, director of CBP Baltimore Field Operations, and Allan Martocci, CBP port director for the area Port of Philadelphia.

Federal regulations restrict bringing meats, fruits, vegetable and plants into the United States from certain parts of the world that have suffered plant and animal disease epidemics. CBP agriculture specialists, who inspect tens of millions of international travelers at our nation’s 327 land, air and sea ports of entry annually, routinely seize and destroy prohibited meat and plant products and capture non-indigenous insect pests. They also conduct routine inspections of international garbage handlers to ensure they comply with strict disposal regulations.

“International airline travel is a robust industry and it creates an enormous amount of garbage, so we wanted to raise awareness that international garbage can pose a threat to our nation’s agriculture,” said Martocci.

In October, more than 30 federal, state and local agencies and veterinary science experts participated in an agriculture exercise that tested the collective response to a simulated foot and mouth disease outbreak in Southeastern Pennsylvania. CBP participated in that exercise.

“Animal diseases are a very serious threat to American agriculture and to our nation’s economy and we learned during the exercise that early detection, containment and mitigation are critical to successfully eradicating any animal disease threats,” said Martocci. “CBP plays an enormously important role as the front line protectors of American agriculture.”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation’s borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws