Coming to Europe: seed-ban is finally lifted (Photo: AP)
Egypt is free to export seeds to the European Union for the first time in eight months after the expiry in late March of a blanket ban on the activity.
Europe banned imports of some seeds and beans from Egypt in July 2011. The move came after food safety investigators said a single shipment of Egyptian fenugreek seeds was the most probable source of a toxic E. coli epidemic which killed 49 people in northern Europe.
The EU ban was supposed to end in October but was later extended until the end of March 2012.
"Egypt is now allowed to resume its export of seeds to European countries," Nabila Massrali, spokeswoman for the Delegation of the European Union to Egypt, told Ahram Online by telephone on Tuesday.
Massrali added that even if the EU had not notified Egypt's government that restrictions were lifted, the change was implicit in the continental body's decision not to renew the eight-month ban.
The chairman of Egypt's Agricultural Export Council, Sherif El-Beltagy, told Ahram Online that the country's Central Department for Agricultural Quarantine has received a letter from the EU informing them of the lifting of the ban.
Reuters reported in July that more than 4,100 people in Europe and North America had been infected in two outbreaks of E. coli infection -- one very large one centered in northern Germany and a smaller cluster focused around the French city of Bordeaux.