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French health and food agency ANSES has issued a warning about a new emerging virus that threatens the cultivation of tomatoes, pimentos and peppers in France. Tomato brown rugose fruit virus (ToBRFV) is particularly dangerous for plants that are sensitive to it. This virus can indeed be transmitted by infected seeds, plants and fruits, as well as by simple contact, and it can survive for a long time without losing its infectious power. Currently, there is no treatment or resistant variety in existence against this virus. Identified for the first time in the Middle East in 2014, reports have been coming in since 2018 about its presence in Mexico, the United States, then in Europe and Asia. Following a specific study, the ANSES has confirmed 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 private cultivation, which represents significant volumes. The Agency has stressed the importance of complying with European regulations on imports of seeds and seedlings, and with specific requirements for imports of fruit. It recommends setting up an adapted surveillance plan, rapidly reporting the presence of the virus in a production area and aiming at the eradication of the virus in these structures. Finally, it is necessary to inform individuals and professionals about the risk posed by ToBRFV and the preventive measures to be implemented.
A few weeks ago, the Spanish press announced the discovery of the virus in Andalusia. In November, the US Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service took immediate action to prevent the introduction of the brown tomato virus into the United States and protect American crops of tomatoes and peppers. In Europe, the EU has placed the virus under quarantine status since 1 November, as part of a European emergency regulation decided by the Commission, which stipulates that each case of the virus detected in Europe must be made public and provides for the implementation of a number of binding measures to prevent the spread of the virus.