The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Luis Planas, has ruled out the exceptional authorization to use the methylchlorpyrifos insecticide against the cotonet plague affecting citrus. Senator Vicente Martinez Mus had requested the Government to make an exception that allowed producers to use this pesticide, which has been banned in the EU since last year, to control the cotonet.
The minister stressed that this controversial insecticide was authorized until 2020 and that it didn't stop the spread of the plague. In addition, he said, it was banned due to its serious health risks it poses, as reflected in the reports of the European Food Safety Agency backed by the EU governments that approved the ban.
Spain is a leading citrus exporter and any residue of this pesticide in the fruit could cause intermediaries and buyers at the destination markets to reject Spanish shipments, he added.
Senator Mus defended using the insecticide as a solution to the expansion of the cotonet, echoing the requests from the agricultural sector. He also said that the pesticide would be harmless for the fruit if it was used at this time of the year, and pointed out that Italy had allowed it exceptionally.
The cotonet plague affects citrus and other fruit farms, such as persimmons or medlars. It has spread in the Valencian Community and there are outbreaks in Tarragona, according to the official data mentioned by the minister. The PP senator said it also affected Murcia and some parts of Andalusia, and Planas replied he had no official confirmation of its presence in these autonomies.
Planas has advocated continuing with the action plan undertaken with the affected autonomous communities to fight the plague and to promote biological control. The minister said they were ready to speed up the registration to authorize new alternative and effective phytosanitary products.
Source: Efe / elperiodicomediterraneo.com