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Carbendazim Ban Impacts Global Orange Juice Marketsqrcode

Nov. 8, 2013

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Nov. 8, 2013
Carbendazim in orange juice and orange juice drinks continues to impact the international trade in concentrate and distort local markets.

Australia banned the use of carbendazim, a common fungicide, on pome fruit (apples and pears), turf and other horticultural crops, including orange trees, in 2010 because of birth defects and male infertility in laboratory animals. 

In early 2012, orange juice markets came under even greater pressure, following clarification that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not approved carbendazim for use on orange trees. At the same time, the US Food and Drugs Administration (US FDA) also confirmed that carbendazim was, and still is, an unlawful pesticide residue in orange juice marketed and sold in the US. As a result of the discovery of contaminated imports, the US FDA introduced an import testing programme to identify tainted product and remove it from the supply chain before it reaches the consumer. In the EU, Carbenzadim is not approved for use with orange production, and imports from outside the EU are subject to maximum residue limits (MRLs) of 0.2 mg/kg (200ppb).

High doses damage fertility

Commonly used to control plant disease in cereals and fruits, including citrus, bananas, strawberries, pineapples and pomes, carbendazim is a broad-spectrum fungicide. In recent years studies have identified the risk that when consumed in high doses it has been found to cause infertility. As a result of these studies MRLs have been reduced in many markets. In both Australia and the US it remains not approved for use on orange trees. This has created supply and demand issues for both the industry’s growers and buyers.

New fungicide development

Brazil, the world’s leading suppliers of oranges, orange juice and frozen concentrate orange juice (FCOJ) has been hardest hit and is exploring all the options to continue the supply of export-grade fruit to the juice industry.  However, researching, developing, testing and launching new fungicide molecules for citrus production is an expensive and slow process. Costs are estimated to reach USD 250 million, while the process, from discovery to commercial availability of a new fungicide could take up to ten years. 

Fundecitrus, Brazil’s national citrus protection defence fund, is leading the campaign for the development of new fungicide products. In the interim Brazil has removed carbendazim from its list of recommended fungicides for producers.

Source: SGS Group

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