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Peru: Senasa denies that methyl bromide contaminates fruit

Fruit wholesalers of Tacna and Moquegua have refused to supply the markets of these regions for the past 20 days. They demand the National Service of Agrarian Health (Senasa) terminates fruit fumigation with methyl bromide (MB). They argue that this chemical accelerates the ripening of fruit and causes damage to health.

Against this background, the executive director of the National Service of Agrarian Health (Senasa) in Tacna, Jose Sotomayor Pineda, went to the media to ask traders to dialogue. He denied that Senasa's checkpoint at Montalvo (Moquegua) excessively fumigated the fruit from the north and center of the country. "We have proposals to improve the service we provide, but we will not suspend fumigation. That's not negotiable, "he said.

He acknowledged that while MB is a highly polluting chemical to the environment, its use for fumigating agricultural products is authorized in several countries of America and Europe.

Traders said bromide caused their products to perish within days of going through fumigation at Montalvo. Sotomayor rejected that argument and noted that the fruit purchased by wholesalers is usually transported in poor condition. "That should be supervised by the municipalities," he said.

He also added that the only products undergoing mandatory fumigation in Montalvo were fruits such as mango, orange, and other citrus, peaches, limes, and cucumber because they can be hosts to the fruit fly. The only regions declared free of the fruit fly in the country are Tacna and Moquegua; thus the fumigation of fruits coming from areas that have not completely eradicated the fruit fly is mandatory.

"We have proposed to traders the systematization of control in Montalvo. That is, all the spraying, amounts, dates and times will be recorded in a computerized system. This is already being done but manually. This change will allow us to avoid suspicions," he said.

Additionally, to reduce waiting times in Montalvo, the Senasa could enable a new checkpoint in Lima in a couple of months.

Key information
Wholesalers are not satisfied with the proposals made by the official from Senasa. 

Arturo Apaza, their leader in Tacna, said they wouldn't stop their strike until Senasa officials in Lima were ready to open a dialogue with them.

Some fruits that are free of fumigation in Montalvo are papaya, pineapple, banana, coconut, passion fruit, melon, watermelon, and squash.


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