The scandal regarding fipronil contaminated eggs brought up at least two major issues. The first one refers to the usage criteria for pesticides within the European Union, and the other one to the institutions and authorities’ reaction in an emergency situation generated by such an illegal use.

First of all, fipronil should not have been used in poultry farms- the ban is clear. The ways in which fipronil is being used in poultry farms in the Netherlands and Belgium are, in many respects, a lot like the money laundry techniques. The active ingredient is purchased from far away, is carried through several intermediates and is used in a place that, usually, is above any suspicion.

Whether we like it or not, people tend to strongly believe that a product coming from the Netherlands or Belgium, is, in general, better than one produced in Romania or Bulgaria. I do wish to be misunderstood, but, if the fipronil treatment had been used in farms in Romania or Bulgaria, the European institutions would have been immediately notified. Hence, from this point of view, the same methods that have been used for years for tracking and countering money laundry or financial frauds should be used to track pesticides use.

Regarding the authorities’ reaction, I wouldn’t be as critical. The report presented by the Commission shows that the measures were fair and accurate. Obviously, the issue is that decentralizing controls and giving a bigger responsibility to the competent institutions at the state level would allow for a faster and better response. Right now, importers from certain countries banned the eggs and chicken meat import from member states such as the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany or all EU states. Certainly, clean-handed producers are being caught in the cross-fire and the entire sector has to face the consequences. This is yet another reason why state level institutions should be more cautious. I am hoping that the European Commission will soon publish details about the financial losses in this sector.

You can watch the COMAGRI meeting at the following link: