Clinton to Ban Taiwan's Wildlife Products

PRESIDENT Clinton's move to ban imports of certain wildlife products from Taiwan in response to that country's continued trade in endangered tigers and rhinoceroses prompted a quick protest from the Taiwanese government.

``This [ban] is a selective action. It is different from what we know as fairness and justice. The United States completely ignored all our efforts on environmental and wildlife conservation in the past,'' Premier Lien Chan told parliament.

Taiwanese officials estimate the ban will cost the island up to $10 million a year. According to US estimates, annual imports of Taiwanese wildlife products total $25 million.

Products affected could include coral and mollusc shell products, and jewelry, snake, lizard and crocodile skin shoes, and other leather products.

The White House said it will review progress made by Taiwan at the end of the year, and adjust sanctions ``as appropriate depending on the extent of the illegal trade.''

The world's rhinoceros population has fallen 90 percent in about 25 years to some 10,000, and the tiger population has fallen 95 percent during this century to about 5,000, the White House said. Worm is groves' hero

A TINY parasitic worm may spell doom for the root-chomping, leaf-chewing citrus root weevil that is wreaking havoc in Florida's citrus groves. A species of nematode, called Steinerema riobravis, stops the onslaught of the weevil, which caused more than $70 million damage last year, says William Schroeder of USDA's Agricultural Research Service.

Once the nematode has attacked the weevil larva, it releases a bacterium that kills the larvae within 48 hours. Offspring from the nematode then feed on the corpse and produce a second generation of hungry juvenile nematodes.

The citrus root weevil, a native of the West Indies, first appeared in Florida in 1964. Schroeder said at that time, strong chemicals were available to control its spread. But the Environmental Protection Agency removed most of the chemicals from the market because of concerns about their effect on the environment and human health.

``Growers are left with few options,'' Mr. Schroeder said. ``We've battled this weevil over the past several years.''

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