Circulating non-EU ToBRFV-infected seed sparks Q status talks

Between December 11, 2021, and January 27, 2022, 15vTomato brown rugose fruit virus (ToBRFV) infested seed shipments were intercepted in the European Union. That is what the European Commission's plant health committee said at the beginning of February. Member states expressed their concerns in the meeting on January 31 and February 1.

Earlier this week, topics including ToBRFV in the European context were further discussed. A virus risk analysis was submitted, and member states exchanged views on this virus's current quarantine regulations. ToBRFV is dangerous to plants but not to humans and animals.

The 15 findings were made in tomato seed shipments from Israel, China, Turkey, and Peru and capsicum seeds from China, Israel, and Thailand.

Infected seeds keep circulating
According to this meeting's minutes, member states expressed concerns about these findings at the previous committee meeting. That includes reports of an incident involving ToBRFV-contaminated tomato seeds sent to China. These were found to be contaminated there in 2020. Seeds from the same batch were reported to an EU member state for import in 2021. This incident, as well as Tomato Mottle Mosaic Virus (ToMMV), infected Chinese tomato and capsicum seeds are being investigated.

Q status
ToBRFV has a quarantine status in the European Union. This virus continues to spread worldwide, so this status is now under discussion, at least in the Netherlands. The Netherlands has been arguing for the current Q status to be adjusted for some time. "The current Quarantine (Q) status provides insufficient opportunities to conduct proper research," said Helma Verberkt in Nieuwe Oogst in December.

Helma is a policy specialist at Glastuinbouw Nederland. Nieuwe Oogst is a multimedia platform of the regional agricultural and horticultural organizations. "A Regulated Non-Quarantine Pests (RNQP) status would allow us to focus more on resistances and green agents."

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