Spanish association calls on EU to close borders to South African citrus

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Spanish association calls on EU to close borders to South African citrus

With the new South African citrus season approaching, debate has roared up once again over black spot concerns from the European Union.grapefruit_tree_ffp

At the close of the 2013 export season, South Africa underwent a largely symbolic, temporary ban following an excess of citrus black spot detections in the nation's shipments to the EU.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) received criticism, most notably from Spanish and Italian producers, for not acting more swiftly and strictly against the African product. Although a ban on South African citrus was announced, it did not come until the end of the season and has not been extended to the upcoming season.

One vocal critic, Spain's Young Farmer’s Association, Asaja-Andalucía, has chimed in once again, asking European authorities to close its borders to the fruit.

Association president Ricardo Serra personally delivered a petition to the European Commission in Brussels to implement a ban until phytosanitary standards can be properly verified.

"EU authorities should be aware that they are dealing with a government that either does not want to or cannot control, with the most minimal guarantees, the sanitation of its plantations or its fruit shipments to Europe," Serra said in an Asaja-Andalucía statement.

"Neither the sector nor the administrators can any longer tolerate the deliberate stalling, nor that the objective analysis and warnings of European scientists continue to be overshadowed by commercial and political pressure."

Although the South African industry has questioned the true risk posed by black spot, Asaja-Andalucía contends that contaminated shipments could threaten Spanish production.

"This is a risk that threatens a sector with a fundamental social, environmental and economic role in regions particularly hit by unemployment and the economic crisis," the association said.

"Ultimately, the credibility of the commission and the effectiveness of phytosanitary policy are at risk."

Related stories: EU: EFSA releases citrus black spot assessment

Spanish association calls for action against South African citrus

EU announces ban on South African citrus


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