EU: Copa Cogeca calls for tougher citrus black spot measures
The head of European farming group Copa Cogeca is calling for stricter measures to deal with the threat of citrus black spot disease (CBS) entering the EU from outside of members states.
General secretary Pekka Pesonen recently wrote to the EU Commission lobbying for stronger measures to control the spread of CBS after dozens of cases were detected from South American countries and South Africa.
"Unless the EU Commission takes tough action and puts in place real measures to prevent the spread of the contagious disease, there is a real risk it will enter the EU," says Copa Cogeca general secretary Pekka Pesonen in the letter.
"Figures show that 15 cases were detected at the borders in citrus fruit imports from South Africa in 2015, 25 in 2014, and 35 in 2013.
"This far exceeds the EU Commission’s permissible limit of five as set out in EC Decision 2014/422."
Pesonen also points out there were 70 cases detected this year at the borders in citrus fruit imports from Uruguay, 17 from Argentina and 13 from Brazil.
"This is unacceptable. The situation is unsustainable. Measures currently in place are not sufficient."
Despite the 'prevention is better than cure' strategy currently adopted by the Commission, Pesonen believes not enough is being done to ensure this criteria is met.
"If the disease enters the EU, it will be the producers who pay the price. There will not be any phytosanitary products to combat the disease.
"Export markets will be lost and many farmers will have to leave the sector. This puts at stake 600,000 hectares and 500,000 tonnes of produce as well as thousands of jobs in the EU.
"For all these reasons, Copa Cogeca urges the European Commission to revise current EU rules and adopts decisive measures such as automatically banning imports of citrus fruit from areas contaminated with Guignardia citricarpa after the sixth case has been intercepted and closely monitor imports from Argentina.
"This would prevent the disease from entering the EU."