Cross-Border Irradiation
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Tim Lauck
Posted on: May 23, 1999

I would like to enquire about whether bilberries would be irradiated on route from Ontario to California. There are two or three agencies that could do this: USDA, CDA, Customs. When I called UPS they said that they do inform customs and they do have this option. Do you know anything about this at your end. They also said that there is some paperwork that can be done at the Canadian end to ensure this does not happen.

We have never heard of any U.S. or Canadian agency fumigating or otherwise treating agricultural products as they cross the U.S.-Canada border without informing either the consignee or shipper. Fumigation is an option for the authorities in some cases where there is a specific pest or disease risk, but these procedures are not used routinely, and in practice, they are rarely used. Irraditation is never used, except perhaps to X-ray parcels to detect illegal goods.

We are also wondering if seeds are irradiated and does this make them less viable or kill them.

If X-rays are used (and there is no indication that they are used routinely), they do not damage seeds or plants.

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