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Claude Knighten  (301) 734-5271
Jerry Redding      (202) 720-4623

USDA SEEKS PARTNERSHIPS TO REAR STERILE FRUIT FLIES

WASHINGTON, Nov. 30, 2006--The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service today announced that it is inviting interested parties to submit an “expression of interest” to partner with APHIS to produce sterile fruit flies at a federal rearing facility, or to purchase the insects from a privately owned company, state or foreign government.

Recognizing the need to establish a secondary source for sterile fruit fly production, APHIS officials are exploring options for constructing a multi-species rearing facility to produce 550 million Mediterranean and 150 million Mexican fruit flies per week.  APHIS is also considering privatizing production of the insects, which are used to respond to emergency outbreaks and to maintain preventive release programs in California, Florida and Texas.

Reared Mediterranean fruit flies (Medflies) are sterilized with a small amount of irradiation and released into areas where they mate with wild Medflies.  The matings do not produce offspring, eventually eliminating the wild population through attrition.

Establishing a secondary source for sterile fruit fly production supports APHIS’ Exotic Fruit Fly Strategic Plan, which incorporates surveillance activities, control programs and regulatory actions to safeguard American agriculture against a number of fruit fly species, including Mediterranean, Mexican and Oriental fruit flies.

Over the next five years, APHIS officials, working with both domestic and international partners, intend to bolster USDA’s capacity to control fruit flies, which are considered one of the most destructive pests of fruits and vegetables in the world.
  
Interested parties wishing to make “submissions of interest” should do so in writing by Jan. 2, 2007.  The “submissions of interest” format can be found in the Dec. 1 Federal Register.   Send to:  Michael Stefan, director of fruit fly exclusion and detection programs, 4700 River Road Unit 137, Riverdale, Md. 20737.

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