EU to report on considering lifting the ban on Egyptian seeds after E.coli scare: agriculture official

Bassem Abo Alabass, Sunday 28 Aug 2011

After deadly E.coli breakouts in Europe were traced to some Egyptian seeds, Egypt's Agriculture Export Council chairman tells Ahram Online he's optimistic that a seed export ban by the EU will soon be lifted


A European Union delegation, which just wrapped up a visit to Egypt to discuss lifting the ban on Egyptian seeds after charges that they are infected with E.coli, is on its way back to Europe to turn around a report in ten days.

Sherif El-Beltagy, chairman of the Egyptian Agricultural Export Council spoke to Ahram Online of the possibilities of ending the dispute that "We are optimistic of the EU's visit and I think the report will be positive."

El-Beltagy stated that the national reports from agricultural and health authorities on seeds were good and the delegation found them acceptable.

"Currently, the export of Egyptian seeds to the EU is stopped, but when the Ukraine lifts the ban, the European countries will follow," El-Beltagy postulated.

On Wednesday the Ukrainian government said it will lift the ban on the import of Egyptian vegetables and seeds it placed after Egypt was accused of being the source of June's deadly E. coli outbreak in Europe.

The Ukraine officially informed Egypt of its decision on Wednesday, giving rise to hopes that the Europe-wide ban on 15 Egyptian sprouting seeds and beans, set for reconsideration at the end of October, can be lifted sooner.

Bernardino León, the EU's special representative for the southern Mediterranean region, had said at a press conference held at the EU headquarters to Egypt on 10 August, 2011 that the European Union will resume imports and increase orders for Egyptian produce if it finds a solution to the current dispute over the alleged E. coli infection.

In July the European Union temporarily banned the import of certain seeds from Egypt until October after some were linked to a deadly E.coli outbreak in Germany and France.

Member states, says the EU, must ensure that all "seeds imported from one Egyptian exporter between 2009 and 2011 are withdrawn from the market, sampled and destroyed."

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