`Europe to Push U.S. for Solution on Olive Oil Pesticide Limits

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Europe to Push U.S. for Solution on Olive Oil Pesticide Limits

May. 28, 2013
By Julie Butler

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The need for max­i­mum pes­ti­cide residue lev­els for olive oil imports into the United States will be raised dur­ing transat­lantic free trade agree­ment talks in Sep­tem­ber, accord­ing to Ital­ian Mem­ber of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment Ser­gio Sil­vestris.

Sil­vestris had called for this back in March when he told the Par­lia­ment that 98 con­tain­ers of Ital­ian extra vir­gin olive oil were at the time detained in the ports of New York and Seat­tle over con­cerns about traces of the pes­ti­cide chlor­pyri­fos-ethyl.

Silvestris’s spokes­woman told Olive Oil Times this week that 60 of the con­tain­ers were later cleared for entry into the U.S. but the rest had to be reshipped to other coun­tries.

E.U. Com­mis­sion­ers pledge sup­port

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She said Sil­vestris had met this week with Euro­pean Com­mis­sioner for for Health and Con­sumer Affairs Tonio Borg, who had promised to try to find a solu­tion in the con­text of the bilat­eral talks in Sep­tem­ber.

Euro­pean Trade Com­mis­sioner Karel de Gucht has also promised his sup­port for any sub­mis­sion for the approval of the sub­stance in olive oil or any peti­tion for the estab­lish­ment of an import tol­er­ance to the US author­i­ties.”

In response to a writ­ten ques­tion in Par­lia­ment by Sil­vestris, de Gucht said that although the pes­ti­cide chlor­pyri­fos-ethyl was widely used in the U.S. and a max­i­mum residue limit (MRL) had been estab­lished for other prod­ucts, none had been set there for olive oil.

As a result, any trace of the sub­stance in olive oil being imported into the US leads to the refusal of the ship­ment,” he said.

Accord­ing to Sil­vestris, for sev­eral years Ital­ian exporters extra vir­gin olive oil have been hav­ing con­sid­er­able dif­fi­culty” import­ing into the U.S. because of residues — although min­i­mal — of chlor­pyri­fos-ethyl, a pes­ti­cide whose use is autho­rised in Italy and Europe in olive cul­ti­va­tion.”

Wine exports also affected

Prob­lems with exports of Euro­pean wine to the U.S. were the sub­ject of a sim­i­lar ques­tion to the Par­lia­ment last month which also reported an increase in prob­lems with pes­ti­cide con­trols on imports into the U.S.

A prime exam­ple is pen­cona­zole, which is approved for use on grapes in the E.U. but is an unreg­is­tered pes­ti­cide in the U.S.,” a group of par­lia­men­tar­i­ans led by Italy’s Her­bert Dorf­mann wrote.

Prod­ucts with trace amounts of these sub­stances are rejected by U.S. Cus­toms because of the exist­ing zero-tol­er­ance prin­ci­ple, even though there is no health risk to the con­sumer,” they said.

They called for an effec­tive solu­tion to be sought in the com­ing nego­ti­a­tions, such as part of the san­i­tary and phy­tosan­i­tary stan­dards chap­ter of the pos­si­ble free trade deal.



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