Eosta: "Import Ban on Citrus Smells Like Protectionism"

Nov 05, 2015, 10:11 ET from Eosta / Nature & More

WADDINXVEEN, the Netherlands, November 5, 2015 /PRNewswire/ --

In 2013, 2014 and 2015 citrus exports from South Africa to the EU have been stopped under threat of an EU ban, around the start of the European citrus season. Citrus imports from South America with more 'hits' were not stopped. According to scientists the spread of black spot in Europe via infected fruits is impossible. Volkert Engelsman of Eosta asks the logical question: Isn't this ban really a protectionist measure?  

     (Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20151105/284266 )

Black spot is a fungal disease in citrus fruit that occurs around the world in specific places with a subtropical climate. The fungus causes small black lesions on fruits which makes the product difficult to sell, although the damage is cosmetic and there is no health hazard. Trees do not die from this disease, as is the case with some other citrus diseases.

Citrus growers in South Africa however have been seriously duped by the situation. In November 2013 the first stop on citrus imports was initiated under threat of a ban by the European Food Safety Authority. This pattern was repeated in 2014 and 2015, when South African citrus growers stopped exporting after 'hits' were found in a minimal number of export lots. The price tag is enormous.

Imports from South America were not banned, in spite of a higher number of black spot interceptions. According to EU Europhyt reports, from March to September 2015, twenty-six interceptions occurred in shipments from Argentina and Uruguay, and only twelve in shipments from South Africa.

Volkert Engelsman, director of Eosta, importer of organic fruit from both continents, comments: "The import ban is disputable scientifically. This disease cannot spread to trees from lesions on mature fruit. An international panel of scientists stated in 2013 that there is no risk of transmission to European climates. CBS simply does not thrive in areas with a Mediterranean climate."

Engelsman concludes: "South Africa and Spain are the largest citrus producers in the world, so one wonders if this isn't really a disguised trade barrier. It looks like the EU wanting to protect southern European citrus growers. At the same time one wonders why citrus from Argentina has not been stopped in spite of higher hit ratios."

Volkert Engelsman founded Eosta, Europe's leading specialist in organic produce. He visits growers in South America and South Africa several times each year. http://www.eosta.com.

SOURCE Eosta / Nature & More