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EU food safety experts warn on crop insecticide

EU member states to debate the issue this week

(CanolaCouncil.org)

Brussels | Reuters –– Dimethoate, an insecticide widely used to protect crops such as cherries, could be harmful to humans, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which advises EU policymakers, said Tuesday.

The report follows a request from France, which is calling for a Europe-wide ban of the substance made by companies including BASF and Cheminova, part of FMC. Neither firm had immediate comment.

The substance is found in products used on a range of fruit and vegetables, but France raised particular concerns about cherries for which it is used to combat fruit fly.

According to EFSA, there is a lack of information, but it said it could not exclude “a potential long-term consumer health risk resulting from residues.”

It cited concerns about toxicity for human health and some U.S. scientific research has found a cancer risk.

France in February banned on its soil a dimethoate-based pesticide used to treat cherries, prompting an outcry from French farmers who say there is no viable alternative.

In a statement on Monday, French Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll called for emergency EU-wide measures to prevent the use of products containing dimethoate and the marketing of cherries grown using them.

A European Commission spokesman said the Commission would analyse the report and it would be debated at a closed-door meeting of experts representing the 28 EU member states on Friday.

Dimethoate products, such as FMC’s Cygon and Loveland Products’ Lagon, are registered in Canada for uses in several field crops, fruits and vegetables, ornamentals and alfalfa.

Controlled pests on the products’ Canadian labels include aphids, thrips and grasshoppers, among others.

Reporting for Reuters by Barbara Lewis; additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Ludwig Burger in Frankfurt. Includes files from AGCanada.com Network staff.

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