Wednesday, 20 November 2002 - 8:05 AM

This presentation is part of : Electronic Technology Focusing on Diagnosis at a Distance

Designing and implementing the USDA National system for remote identification of organisms and a report on it's current mission and status

Michael J. Firko and Joseph F. Cavey. USDA APHIS PPQ, National Identification Services, 4700 River Rd Unit 133, APHIS Plant Health Programs, Riverdale, MD

Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) within USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service conducts Agricultural Quarantine Inspections (AQI) at U.S. ports of entry. About 100,000 times each year, PPQ detects potential plant pests associated with passengers, shipments, conveyances, or mail. Before quarantine decisions can be made, intercepted organisms must be identified. PPQ has full time Identifiers (Entomologists, Plant Pathologists, Botanists) at the 27 busiest U.S. ports. Until PPQ Identifiers earn identification authority for particular organisms, intercepted specimens are forwarded to National Specialists for final determination or confirmation. When cargo is placed on agricultural hold pending identification of intercepted organisms, the identification is classified as Urgent. Until recently, when Urgents were forwarded to National Specialists, specimens were sent via overnight mail. As of 2000, USDA installed remote identification systems at all ports with PPQ Identifiers. Systems consist of stereo dissecting and compound microscopes, microscope-mounted digital camera, consumer digital camera for large specimens, high-end workstation with large monitor, and image-processing software. Although image receivers (National Specialists) need only a workstation to make digital identifications, all PPQ National Specialists also have imaging systems. During 2001, PPQ installed systems at 15 additional non-Identifier ports, where AQI Officers send digital images to PPQ Identifiers. Upgraded cameras have been installed at all locations. Thus, PPQ provides same-day pest identification and quarantine determinations throughout the United States for all types of intercepted organisms. These systems save money, facilitate delivery of fresh produce to American consumers, reduce pesticide applications, and have related educational and other benefits.

Keywords: photography, technology

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