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France Reinstates Ban on US Cherries

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On April 27, 2017 France reinstated the ban on the import and sales of cherries imported from countries, including the United States, where the chemical product dimethoate can be used on cherries and cherry trees. Such a ban was in place between Apri l 22 and December 31, 2016.

France’s decision followed the ban of the chemical compound for domestic production. Dimethoate was used to control Drosophila suzukii, an Asian fruit fly which causes considerable damage in cherry orchards but is suspected by France of being dangerous to human health.

France imports roughly one fifth of its cherry consumption, the bulk coming from EU countries including some (such as Spain and Germany) that have already banned dimethoate. The French prohibition means the United States cannot export cherries to France which were valued at around $1 million (2015) annually before the ban.

On the other hand, as France’s production is likely to be impacted by the ban on the pesticide, French cherries are likely to be scarcer and more expensive, creating opportunities for competitors in traditional French export markets such as the UK. The French Ministry of Agriculture also set a €5 million program to subsidize the income of French cherry producers impacted by Drosophila suzukii related losses.

Fruit importers and traders fear that France may soon implement a similar domestic ban against other EU approved pesticides or chemicals, de facto shutting down the free movement of EU and third country fruit and vegetables into France.

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