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Egypt cancels zero common grains fungus wheat policy

Staff Writer |
Egypt has reversed its zero-tolerance policy on the common grains fungus ergot, the government said on Wednesday, backtracking on an import regulation that had all but blocked its access to global wheat.

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Egypt, the world's largest buyer of wheat, has seen its imports grind to a halt since it imposed a ban on ergot last month, with three successive state tenders cancelled on the back of mass boycotts by suppliers who say the condition is impossible to guarantee.

Ergot can cause hallucinations when consumed in large amounts but is considered harmless in low quantities.

The government said it was reinstating a 0.05 percent tolerance level for ergot, a common international standard it had used before the ban, and was applying it to both outstanding and future wheat contracts.

The decision to apply last month's ban retroactively to outstanding contracts had led to the suspension of 540,000 tonnes of wheat en route to Egypt after being suspected of ergot contamination, the government said.

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