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Spain doesn't trust South African fruit inspectors

Staff writer |
The Phytosanitary Committee approved the European Commission's proposal to reduce the high phytosanitary risk posed by South African citrus shipments contaminated with Black Spot.

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The organisations and associations representing the Spanish citrus sector, such as Cooperativas Agro-alimentarias, ASAJA, COAG, UPA, Comite de Gestion de Cítricos and Ailimpo, had rejected the proposal, as they considered it insufficient, although it was deemed a 'small' step in the right direction.

One of the most controversial points is that the new controls introduced will be carried out by the authorities of the country of origin and will not be supervised by the EU. According to the Spanish citrus sector, the EU should be the one sending the phytosanitary inspection teams to South Africa.

"We insist that the EU should enforce the same measures that we have to meet when exporting our goods overseas. Our sector pays for the work of inspectors working at the countries where the EU ships its fruit; exhaustive controls both in our plantations, our warehouses and our ports," says Genaro Avino, director of AVA ASAJA, adding that "we must now rely on the work of South African inspectors, who have already shown that they are not able to ensure by themselves the safety of their shipments."

"The Commission does not provide the measures to be taken if more than 5 contaminated batches are intercepted; it does not provide, as claimed by the Administration and the Spanish industry, a tool allowing the EU to automatically proceed to the precautionary closure of its border after the first interception or as soon as a certain threshold is reached," said Cooperativas Agroalimentarias in a statement.

"The EC has not taken into account that the entry of this disease into the EU would entail enormous socioeconomic costs for Member State growers and would put the continuity of over 500,000 hectares of citrus plantations at high risk."

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