Detectives of the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority NVWA-IOD searched the premises of 2 companies and a house in South Holland on Tuesday 21 September. These two companies are suspected of cooperating in producing and using an unauthorized substance to combat the highly contagious plant virus ToBRFV. The investigators seized company records at both companies, and a criminal investigation was launched.
ToBRFV (Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus) is a relatively new and highly contagious tomato virus that spreads rapidly through contact. At this moment, 29 companies in the Netherlands are under the supervision of the NVWA because of an infection with the virus. EU member states are obliged to prevent the introduction and spread of this so-called quarantine organism. The unauthorized product is suspected of containing a weak strain of the virus. If plants are treated with this, this is, in fact spreading the virus. This is prohibited. A suspicion of the presence of this virus or an established infection should be reported immediately to the NVWA.
Earlier on during this investigation, the investigators came across a greenhouse in Zuid-Holland containing ToBRFV-infected plants. It is suspected that experiments with the virus were carried out in this greenhouse. This is only permitted if a permit has been issued for it. That was not the case here. The presence of the virus had also not been reported to the NVWA, although this is compulsory.
Further investigation revealed two companies from South Holland, which presumably produced and used a product in the greenhouse found to combat the tomato virus. That is not allowed either. An agent against plant diseases, pests, and weeds may only be used if it is permitted in the Netherlands.
source & image: NVWA