The Russian food safety regulator, Rosselkhoznadzor, has partially banned imports of bananas from Ecuador, the world’s largest exporter of the fruit, after discovering a dangerous pest in shipments, the agency said in a statement on its website on Friday.
The ban targets five Ecuadorian exporters, and will come into force on February 5.
The pest in question was a polyphagous humpback fly (Megaselia scalaris Loew), which is considered a dangerous quarantine item for Russia and the EAEU countries, as it can contaminate a wide range of products and is a carrier of cholera and the bee plague.
Rosselkhoznadzor asked Ecuadorian suppliers to probe producers, and warned that more restrictive measures could follow if the authorities fail to take measures to prevent the supply of unsafe bananas to Russia. Moscow is one of Ecuador’s largest buyers of the product.
In a separate move, the regulator also banned imports of Ecuadorian carnations, which enter the country via the Netherlands, Germany, Latvia and Lithuania. Rosselkhoznadzor said it has sent notices to the relevant authorities of those EU states, requesting that they stop certifying Ecuadorian carnations as of February 9. The agency explained that it had found Californian flower thrips (Frankliniella occidentalis), a pest which can cause 100% crop loss, in flowers of Ecuadorian origin.
The bans come days after Ecuador’s president, Daniel Noboa, announced plans to give the US its outdated Russian and Ukrainian-made military equipment he claimed was “scrap” in exchange for new US-made hardware. In response, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova warned that the move would violate existing agreements, which do not allow Ecuador to transfer Russian-made equipment to a third party without permission from Moscow.
Viktor Bondarev, first deputy chairman of the Russian Senate Defense Committee, said that by sending arms to the US, Ecuador would also violate its neutral status in the Ukraine conflict, as they will eventually find their way to Kiev.
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