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French tomatoes, peppers and chillis under threat from dangerous virus

A woman shops tomatoes in the vegetables produce section of a Carrefour supermarket on March 15, 2012 in the French northern city of Hazebrouck.
A woman shops tomatoes in the vegetables produce section of a Carrefour supermarket on March 15, 2012 in the French northern city of Hazebrouck. AFP - PHILIPPE HUGUEN

A particularly devastating virus is threatening tomatoes, peppers and chilli plants in France after affecting six countries in Europe as well as Turkey, the United States and China, France’s food safety agency Anses said on Tuesday.

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The Tomato brown rugose fruit virus (ToBRFV) is harmless to humans but it can destroy a whole areas of production, be it in greenhouses, vegetable gardens or organic fields, it said.

It can be transmitted by infected seeds, plants and fruits, as well as by simple contact and survive for a long time without losing its power of infection, Anses said.

There is currently no treatment or variety resistant to the virus, which emerged in the Middle East in 2014 before spreading to Europe in 2018.

“Anses confirms a high risk of introduction and spread of the virus in France with a significant potential impact on crops, both for professional sectors and for family production, which represent significant volumes,” it said in a statement.

The virus causes yellow or brown spots to appear on the leaves and deformation of fruit, which thus become non-marketable, Anses said.

The agency recommends that plants in a contaminated area be removed and burned.

It also advises growers to buy only certified seeds and if possible outside contaminated European countries.

(REUTERS)

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