Isle orchid growers appeal to federal court
The Hawaii Orchid Growers Association is appealing a federal court decision over the importation of potted orchid plants from Taiwan.
U.S. District Judge Royce Laberth ruled against the growers on June 29 in Washington, D.C.
The growers filed a notice of appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington on Tuesday.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture changed a plant quarantine rule in 2004 to allow the importation of phalaenopsis orchids, also known as moth orchids, in potting materials such as moss. Taiwanese orchids are now being shipped by container to the mainland, but so far the U.S. Department of Agriculture says there have been no direct shipments of the potted plants to Hawaii.
In its lawsuit the Hawaii Orchid Growers Association alleges that the department did not fully consider the possible effects of invasive pests like biting midges that could be contained in the Taiwanese moss and potting material.
Growers are also concerned that the importation of cheaper Taiwanese orchids could threaten the local nursery industry.
Graham Wood, chairman of the Hawaii Orchid Growers Association, said a vote by members of the group was "overwhelmingly" in favor of continuing with the lawsuit.
Wood said if invasive species from Taiwan become established in Hawaii, it could lead to the quarantine of all agricultural products being shipped to the mainland.