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Comes from an area affected by greening disease

Spain: Illegal presence of Early Pride mandarins denounced

The Valencian Association of Agricultural Producers (AVA-ASAJA) has denounced the irregular, fraudulent and clandestine presence in the Valencian citrus industry of a mandarin variety called Early Pride, originally from the American State of Florida; an area severely punished by greening; that is, by far, the most lethal and dangerous disease affecting citrus fruits.

There is currently proof that an application has been made for the Early Pride to obtain legal and administrative recognition in the European Union variety register, but the truth is that this mandatory procedure has not yet been completed, so the circulation of this mandarin variety or of the plant material for its reproduction is not only not authorised by Brussels, but it entails a very serious risk, as nobody can guarantee that this plant material, illegal and clandestine, will be clean of viruses or diseases. In this case, and taking into account that the Early Pride comes from an area infested with greening disease, there is maximum concern, especially when considering that one of its transmitting vectors, the Trioza erytreae, continues to spread across Galicia and Portugal.

Meanwhile, AVA-ASAJA is aware that it is currently relatively easy to acquire plant material of both the aforementioned variety and of some others that have also arrived clandestinely. It would not be, therefore, an isolated case. Surely, and as is often the case, the introduction of the Early Pride would have been carried out in an entirely irregular way by means of grafts made from the mandarin that entered furtively in Europe and, consequently, without being subjected to any type of sanitary control.

"It would be regrettable if the most deadly disease attacking citrus fruits arrived in the Region of Valencia due to the activities of some unscrupulous people," stated the president of AVA-ASAJA, Cristóbal Aguado, adding that "there are already enough diseases coming in through imports from third countries. It is crazy that a plant material that has not been previously tested continues to be multiplied and sold clandestinely, without forgetting that this variety comes from Florida; an area where greening is wreaking havoc. At AVA-ASAJA, we call on producers not to fall into the black market networks, because the consequences could be disastrous for them."

Given the seriousness of what is happening, the head of this agricultural organization has asked the Council of Agriculture to "act with the utmost rigor and with all the forcefulness necessary to stop the illegal spread of this variety. It is necessary to identify the farms that have Early Pride, proceed to remove them and apply the sanctions provided by law, because there is a lot at stake and we cannot take things easy."

AVA-ASAJA has also called on the agrarian departments of the autonomous regions of Murcia and Andalusia, as well as the Ministry of Agriculture, to exercise extreme vigilance, since it is suspected that these two regions may also have some Early Pride orchards.

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