Florida is the country’s largest producer of fresh tomatoes — yet a deadly virus is threatening its crops.
Spread of Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus has prompted the EU to take action with new trade controls being introduced
As of 1 November seed and plant exporters will need to have their produce verified, with the emergency measures applying to both tomatoes and peppers.
The virus has spread rapidly throughout the continent in the past year, with the UK’s first case reported in August, although the AHDB believe it has since been eradicated.
The ToBRFV virus causes tomato fruits to discolour and misshapen, leaving them unmarketable.
According to AHDB, the measures will mean that EU member states (including the UK) will have to conduct annual surveys for the virus. Any seed moving into and within the EU will require appropriate documentation supported by official sampling and testing.
Plants imported for planting will need to originate in an area free from the virus and be accompanied by appropriate documentation.
State inspectors have identified imported tomatoes in Naples that contain a virus that can cause fruit loss in tomatoes and peppers but does not pose a health risk to humans.
Florida’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services issued an alert Wednesday advising of the tomato brown rugose virus
The FPAA said the “threat is not new” and was identified in a California greenhouse in September 2018 and in Mayin a greenhouse in Ontario, Canada, as well as in Mexico in 2018.
The FPAA said that because of the severe threat that the disease poses to tomatoes and peppers, plant officials in all three nations have instituted programs to identify and eradicate the disease, which can be spread by touch.