Corn seeds with deadly maize virus seized

Ke Jiayun
Shanghai Customs seized1 kilogram of corn seeds infected with the harmful maize chlorotic mottle virus, China's first such interception.
Ke Jiayun

Shanghai Customs seized 1 kilogram of corn seeds with maize chlorotic mottle virus in some luggage shipped by sea into the country, officials announced on Sunday.

Maize chlorotic mottle virus is a genus of plant virus that can cause significant losses in maize production. It's the first time China has intercepted the virus through customs' passenger screening.

According to customs officials, they detected some suspicious plant materials in an inbound luggage during an X-ray scan on April 17. On opening the suitcase, they found 1kg of plant seeds, which are banned from entering China.

The corn seeds were sent for a laboratory check. On Monday, test results showed that they carried the harmful maize chlorotic mottle virus. The seeds will be later destroyed by customs.

Customs said maize chlorotic mottle virus is mainly found in the United States, Mexico, Ecuador, Peru, Argentina, Thailand and parts of eastern Africa. It can be transmitted via various ways like seeds or insects and is hard to control. It generally jointly infects maize crops with some other viruses, which leads to maize lethal necrosis and causes the yield on slopes to fail.

As the world's second-largest corn producer, China would likely suffer huge losses if the virus is allowed in.

In the past three years, Shanghai Customs has intercepted 7,380 batches of seeds and seedlings illegally brought in or mailed to the country and found that 3,867 of them came with harmful organisms.

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