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Fight to persuade EU to accept SA citrus science

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Saturday, 24 August 2013

Fight to persuade EU to accept SA citrus science

South Africa is trying to convince the European Union (EU) to accept "scientific fact" that black spot carries no risk to their orchards or consumers.
This is seen as the only "the only long-term solution" to the dispute that threatens South Africa citrus fruits exports, after the European Union has threaten with an import ban in case it intercepts over five incidences of black spot a year, Bloomberg informed on July 26.

Citrus black spot is a disease that affects the rind of fruit, though it has no risk to consumers
The department said South Africa had instituted a revised citrus black spot risk-management system that it has shared with the EU Directorate-General for Health and Consumers’ commission.
The system stipulates that all citrus fruit consigned to the EU "must have originated in a field of production subjected to appropriate treatments against citrus black spot, and none of the fruit harvested in the field of production has shown, during an appropriate official examination, symptoms of this organism".
In addition to this, the EU has agreed to allow South Africa to declare if, at any stage, the pest status of a farm changes while the consignment is on its way to the EU.
This would mean that the consignment would be barred from the EU and the farmer who sent it would be "deregistered" as a citrus exporter. However, the consignment would not count towards South Africa’s permitted threshold of less than five interceptions of affected citrus fruit, which might result in all citrus exports being barred from the EU.

Trade talks between the EU and the Department of Agriculture in Pretoria last month failed to ease the stringent phytosanitary requirements for exported South African citrus. "South Africa is pursuing all available avenues to engage with the EU on its regulations on citrus black spot, including providing comments on the European Food Safety Authority’s black spot pest risk assessment," the department said.

If the requirements are not be eased, South Africa announced that it is looking into "expanding" its citrus markets, particularly to other countries in Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) such as China and India.

Source: Business Day (bdlive.co.za)