Egypt's administrative court bans imports of Russian wheat with traces of fungus

El-Sayed Gamal El-Din , Tuesday 14 Nov 2017

File photo: Farmers harvest wheat on Qalyub farm in the El-Kalubia governorate, northeast of Cairo, Egypt May 1, 2016 Reuters

Egypt's administrative court on Tuesday banned Russian imports of wheat that contain traces of ergot fungus following a lawsuit filed in 2016 by rights lawyer Tarek El-Awady against the Egyptian prime minister and ministers of agriculture, health, and supply.

The court justified Tuesday's decision saying that "the insistence of the Egyptian government to not abide by its decision to ban the imports of wheat infected with ergot, but rather allowing it despite its threat to public health, violates the government's vow to respect the constitution and law, and to provide a proper and healthy environment."

Between 2010 and 2016 the Egyptian Minsitry of Agriculture tolerated a limit of 0.05 percent of the fungus in the country's wheat imports, an internationally recognized standard.

The ministry overturned this in an August 2016 decision, instituting a zero-tolerance policy, which threatened to stop Russian shipments of the grain to Egypt.

However on 21 September 2016, the Egyptian Cabinet authorized importation in accordance with the 2010 standard of 0.05 percent, also announcing the resumption of Russian imports.

Tuesday's decision overturns the cabinet's policy.

Egypt is the world's largest importer of wheat and is the destination of roughly one-third of Russian wheat exports.

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