"For months we have been periodically analyzing the number of citrus fruit shipments to the EU that have been intercepted with different types of pests and diseases based on the information published by TRACES, which is dependent on the General Directorate of Health and Food Safety of the European Commission,” stated the president of the Citrus and Intercitrus Management Committee, Inmaculada Sanfeliu.
“The data shows that 2021 has been, by far, a record year. According to the latest available data, up until November, 200 shipments of the small percentage of shipments that is sampled were intercepted.”
“Intercitrus and other sectoral organizations in France, Italy, and Portugal, as well as European entities such as COPA-COGECA, and FruitVegetablesEUROPE (EUCOFEL) have been warning the highest national authorities, represented by the ministers of agriculture of France (Julien Denormandie), Italy (Stefano Patuanelli), Portugal (Maria do Céu Antunes), and Spain (Luis Planas), as well as the competent European authorities (Permanent Phytosanitary Committee), that we are at the gates of a phytosanitary crisis. The Citrus Contact Group has insistently pointed out in recent months that we have already run out of time and that we have to act before it is too late.”
"Since 2000, 15 foreign pathogens have been introduced into the EU, 7 of which are classified as priority pests because of the economic and environmental risk they pose. In addition, there is a serious risk the false moth (FCM), the black spot (CBS), and the greening (HLB), which are highly dangerous harmful organisms due to the magnitude of the damage they can cause, could enter the EU; not to mention foreign pathogens already established in Europe such as Xylella fastidiosa or the cotonet from South Africa."
"Based on the current data, we can say that we are facing a critical moment, not only because these pests and diseases affect the European citrus industry, but also because they affect the fruit and vegetable sector as a whole. According to the EPPO, some of these pathogens affect more than 70 plant species, including many fruit crops. This issue concerns more than the citrus sector or a particular country, it can put at risk a large part of the plantations and harvests throughout the European continent and, therefore, its ecosystems.”
“If it spread across Europe, the magnitude of the possible damage would be incalculable; It would be an ecological disaster, it would have serious socio-economic consequences and it would break the local supply chains of a strategic sector, which would leave the EU in a position of absolute dependence on the foreign market to supply itself with fruit or vegetables.”
"Why doesn't the EU demand cold treatment to citrus imports from third countries when other third-party citrus-producing countries require it for safety and plant health reasons?" Inmaculada asked.