Rice to become more expensive due to 'disastrous' EU import rules
The price of a curry will rise from December due to “disastrous” new EU import restrictions on rice, politicians have warned.
The EU Commission has ordered basmati manufacturers to slash levels of the pesticide Tricyclazole to a hundredth of its current legal level, despite being told it is impossible to do so sustainably in less than three years.
The compound has been used by Indian farmers, who produce roughly 60 per cent of the world’s basmati, to protect against rice blast disease for the last 30 years.
Current EU restrictions limiting traces to 1 mg/kg were already considered conservative compared to Japanese and US import limits of 3 mg/kg.
But in June the Commission ruled traces must be all but eradicated from December.
The Indian Government has said it would take producers at least three harvests over three years to effectively modify their crops, and that the abrupt change of rules will hand a monopoly to Pakistan, where the pesticide is not used.
You don’t need a PhD in business and economics to realise that if you ban imports from a country that grows 60 per cent of the world’s rice, the price will go upSyed Kamall MEP
Syed Kamall, Conservative MEP for London, said: “This could have a disastrous effect on farmers’ livelihoods in India, and at the same time we in Britain will end up paying more for our favourite rice.”
He added: “I am calling on the Commission to delay implementation of this order to give the Indians time to make their crop comply, especially since no-one is seriously claiming that Indian Basmati rice has suddenly become unsafe to eat.”
A letter from India’s Ambassador in Belgium, seen by The Sunday Telegraph, said the Commission took its decision on the basis of a “precautionary principle” without knowing the carcinogenic effect of Tricyclazole, a fungicide.
He said: “Indian suppliers who have built the Indian brands of basmati rice over four decades would be precluded from the EU market based on the EU decision.”
The EU currently imports around 360,000 tonnes of basmati rice a year, of which 150,000 tonnes comes to the UK.
Around 80 per cent is brown, and 20 per cent white.
“You don’t need a PhD in business and economics to realise that if you ban imports from a country that grows 60 per cent of the world’s rice, the price will go up," said Dr Kamall.
Basmati is popular because of its versatility, aroma and ability to absorb flavours of the dish it accompanies.
The EU regulation states: “In view of the long shelf life of rice, this Regulation should provide for a transitional arrangement for rice grown in 2016 or before, in order to allow for the normal marketing, processing and consumption of rice.
“However taking into account the uncertainties regarding certain properties of Tricyclazole, the timelines foreseen in this Regulation do not allow for any treatment with Tricyclazole in 2017 or thereafter.”