FRESNO, Calif. (AP) -- Dozens of foreign insects and plant diseases slipped undetected into the United States in the years after 9/11, when authorities were so focused on preventing another attack that they overlooked a pest explosion that threatened the quality of the nation's food supply.
Those are the findings from an Associated Press analysis of agricultural inspection records. In the aftermath of the attacks, hundreds of scientists responsible for stopping invasive species at the border were reassigned to anti-terrorism duties in the newly formed Homeland Security Department. Scientists say that move cost billions of dollars in crop damage and eradication efforts from California vineyards to Florida citrus groves.
The consequences come in the form of higher grocery prices, substandard produce and the risk of environmental damage from chemicals needed to combat the pests.