13 Jul 2018 09:37

Belarus dismisses Russian concerns over dangerous corn rootworm

MINSK. July 13 (Interfax) - Belarus has denied Russian plant and animal health watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor's claims regarding corn rootworm, a dangerous pest that can do irreparable harm to farm crops, particularly corn.

"Damage to corn plants by this beetle has not been documented in the country," Belarusian Deputy Agriculture and Food Minister Vladimir Grakun told reporters in Minsk on Thursday.

The relevant Belarusian authority is monitoring for pests and diseases subject to quarantine coming into Belarus and Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) countries, he said. Monitoring for corn rootworm, for example, is done by setting pheromone traps close to borders with countries where it is common - Ukraine and Poland.

"We found the beetle in a pheromone trap on our territory for the first time in 2009. The appropriate measures were taken immediately. Almost ten years have already passed since 2009. In all this time, damage to corn crops by this beetle has not been recorded," Grakun said.

There have only been isolated cases of the beetle being caught in pheromone traps, he said. "This year, corn rootworm has not been found on Belarusian territory at all," Grakun said.

When the beetle is found in a pheromone trap, a quarantine phytosanitary zone is established in the area and corn is prohibited from being grown in this zone, he said. "The measures taken made it possible to prevent the spread of the beetle across the country's territory," Grakun said.

Earlier on Thursday it was reported that Rosselkhoznadzor asked Belarus to take urgent steps against corn rootworm and that the Russian watchdog still plans to impose a ban on imports of Belarusian crop products, packaging and containers if the demands are not met.

Rosselkhoznadzor received information in July that Belarus set up quarantine phytosanitary zones for corn rootworm in 2017. This information was gleaned from reference material on the quarantine phytosanitary situation in CIS countries as of January 1, 2018. Belarus provided the information for the document.