Dean of the CZU: Finding an unauthorized substance in grain does not mean that it is poisonous

Dean of CZU: Finding unauthorized substances in grain does not mean they are poisonous

Grain – wheat – illustration photo.

Prague – The finding of an over-limit amount of an unauthorized substance does not mean that the agricultural product is poisonous. This is a failure to meet hygienic, not toxicological, limits, so such goods are not allowed on the market. The dean of the Faculty of Agrobiology, Food and Natural Resources of the Czech University of Life Sciences, Josef Soukup, told ČTK about the discovery of a residue of a banned pesticide in one of the shipments of grain from Ukraine to Slovakia, which then banned its import and processing. According to the dean, production from Ukraine may be more risky due to less strict legislation on the use of pesticides, but this does not mean that all production there is of poor quality or dangerous.

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Soukup said that the control system and registration of products for plant protection, treatment, storage or processing of agricultural production in the EU is among the strictest in the world, which contributes to a high standard of quality. “The technological discipline of farmers is also important, which is higher in the EU than in other parts of the world, including war-torn Ukraine,” he added.

According to him, in Ukraine, in most cases, the same active substances of pesticides are used as elsewhere in the world. Substances that have already been banned by the EU, or the possible use of preparations of unclear origin from Asian companies that may contain admixtures of dangerous substances, can be problematic. “Most generic companies in less demanding markets offer cheap but low-quality or dangerous products that have not been properly registered and tested and are often supplied as counterfeit original preparations,” he noted.

He drew attention to the fact that, based on the discovery of the residue of the banned pesticide, it cannot be said that Ukrainian grain is of lower quality, but such a suspicion can be assumed. “Similarly, it cannot be said that the mere finding of an over-limit amount of any substance, even an unauthorized one, means that the agricultural product is poisonous. This is a hygienic limit, not a toxicological one,” he said. He added that such goods must not be put into circulation, because the substance found is considered dangerous to health.

The topic of importing Ukrainian production into the EU is also mentioned by some politicians. For example, MP Radek Koten (SPD) said at a meeting of the Chamber that “significantly contaminated grain from Ukraine” appeared on the market. In this context, he also criticized the Minister of Agriculture Zdenek Nekula (KDU-ČSL), who, according to him, is on the borderline of the paragraph of general threat. However, Nekula stated several times that only a negligible amount of wheat was imported to the Czech Republic from Ukraine and that it is intensively checked by all supervisory bodies such as the State Agricultural and Food Inspection or the State Veterinary Administration. Inspections have not yet revealed any problematic goods.

The Ministry of Agriculture also draws attention to a number of misinformation that appears in the public space in connection with Ukrainian grain. Among other things, it stated that flour made from substandard wheat was not imported from Slovakia to the Czech Republic. The Mlyn Kolárovo company from the south of Slovakia, which produced it, after being notified by the authorities about the contaminated Ukrainian wheat, said that, according to a new analysis, the grain complies with the relevant regulations. The next procedure should be decided by the result of the control analysis in the EU laboratory.