Supervisor tackles tomato growers who deliberately spread virus

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NOS News

The Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) will take action against tomato growers who deliberately infect their own plants with a virus, a method known as cross-protection.

It concerns the so-called brown rugose fruit virus (ToBRFV). Growers use an illegal substance that contains a variant of that virus to better protect plants against more aggressive virus variants. The use of the product is not only prohibited, it also entails risks for the user and surrounding companies, says the NVWA.

The drug, whose effectiveness is not clear, according to its producer, contains a mild variant of the virus. But according to the NVWA, that claim is not supported by scientific evidence and that has already been passed on to the growers, the food authority reports.

Enforcing action

EU rules prescribe that the spread of ToBRFV must be combated. It is also mandatory to eliminate the virus if found.

The regulator says it suspects which companies have deliberately infected their plants and announces “enforcement action”, without going into further detail.

Last year, the NVWA already warned not to apply cross-protection, but it seems very likely that this is still happening. During inspections at several infected farms, the NVWA found the ToBRFV variant in the product.

Production and sales continue

Last year, the NVWA completed a criminal investigation into the suspected producer of the product and several companies where plants were deliberately contaminated. The file has been submitted to the Public Prosecution Service.

The regulator has indications that the suspected producer has not stopped producing and selling the drug. That is why a new enforcement investigation has started.

ToBRFV is not harmful to humans.

  • Interior

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