About 20 shipping containers of organic soybeans from China have been detained at the Port of Portland while officials investigate concerns about possible invasive species. This may be a new front in the battle to protect native plants and animals.
Neither Customs officials nor the Department of Agriculture would confirm any details. They keep their actions confidential until matters are resolved. But Dan Hillburn of the Oregon Department of Agriculture has been writing about the incident on an invasive species blog. He says he's relieved customs officials detected the presence of a parasite called dodder and a creeping herb called Benghal dayflower.
He explained, "Globalization and international trade heightens the risk of introduction of new species. You just have more commodities moving around the world, more travel - they're all pathways for hitchhikers."
Officials aren't saying where the soybeans are from, or who sent them. Traditionally, Oregon and Washington ports have handled a healthy soybean export business, but soybean imports are a relatively new phenomenon. This shipment was destined as organic chicken feed.
Hillburn says about fifty more containers from the same source are en route, but he thinks there's an excellent chance the problem has been stopped -- this time.
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