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Plant health (07-02-2014)

Commission de-lists "western corn rootworm" as a quarantine pest

Two legal acts withdrawing the western corn rootworm from the list of regulated harmful organisms with quarantine status in the EU and repealing the related emergency measures to prevent the spread within the EU were today published in the Official Journal.

The western corn rootworm (Diabrotica virgifera virgifera Le Conte) is a non-native insect pest of maize, endemic in North America and first detected in Europe in 1992. The specific control measures put in place in 2003 could not prevent its spread within the EU as this pest is now established in 13 EU Member States, who represent a large part of the EU maize cultivation area.

According to an impact assessment carried out by the Commission, it is neither feasible to pursue an eradication of this pest from the EU, nor to prevent its further spread into the areas which are currently free. Therefore, on request of the agricultural sector, the regulation of the western corn rootworm as a quarantine pest was considered no longer appropriate. Experience gained with this pest shows that maize production can coexist with the western corn rootworm, since there are effective and sustainable methods for the control of this pest. Among these, crop rotation should be considered the preferred method not only because it is the most effective but also because of its many additional agronomical and environmental benefits.

A Commission Recommendation on measures to control this pest in a sustainable way in areas where it is present in the EU was also adopted today.

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