(April 19) LOS ANGELES — The California Avocado Commission, Irvine, has taken its concern over Mexican imports to federal court.

Acting on a mid-March decision by the commission’s board of directors, the commission filed suit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture April 17 over the agency’s lifting of a decades-old quarantine on Mexican-grown avocadoes Feb. 1.

Richard Rossier, the commission’s Washington, D.C.-based attorney, said the commission is concerned about the potential for infestation.

“The commission believes the Department of Agriculture does not have a good handle on the many species of scale insects that are common in Mexico,” Rossier said.

He said those insects could cost the California avocado industry millions of dollars in treatment costs and loss of sales.

In late March, the California Department of Food and Agriculture rejected 11 loads of Mexican avocadoes because the loads contained a live scale insect that was considered invasive. A second test showed that 10 of those loads contained a species of scale insects native to California, but a third test found the pests had not been found in California before.