COPA-COGECA WARNS EU DECISION TO REINFORCE CONTROLS ON SOUTH AFRICAN IMPORTS OF CITRUS FRUIT TO PREVENT SPREAD OF BLACK SPOT DISEASE ARE INSUFFICIENT AND DO NOT GO FAR ENOUGH

Copa-Cogeca warned today that the EU’s decision to reinforce import controls on citrus fruit coming from South Africa to protect against the spread of black spot disease are insufficient and much stronger action is needed.

Copa-Cogeca Secretary-General Pekka Pesonen said “The decision is a step which improves on the current situation but it’s not sufficient. We should respect fully the recommendations made by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) last February which said that there is a high risk of introducing this disease in the EU via citrus fruit imports contaminated with black spot disease. The agreement today is an improvement on current controls but it doesn’t foresee what measures should be taken if there are over 6 interceptions of contaminated batches. We urge the EU Commission to introduce measures which apply automatically to restrict imports from South Africa if more than 6 interceptions are detected, as recommended by EFSA. We don’t want the same situation as last year when almost 40 interceptions were found and when the EU only took measures when the export season had finished. We faced a very high risk of contamination last season and we cannot repeat it this year. We also want stronger control measures at the point of destination .

He continued : “If the disease enters the EU, the damage would be enormous, with huge costs for Member States, producers and agri-cooperatives. Many jobs and small enterprises depend on this sector both up and downstream and its crucial for the economies of some producer regions in the south of Europe. Plant health is a big issue for the EU and its crucial to protect the agricultural sector from importing diseases from other countries. It is better to prevent. So we the EU to take stronger measures to prevent the introduction of black spot into the EU via contaminated citrus imports from South Africa”.

-RIPRODUZIONE RISERVATA-

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