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Scientific opinion on the import of Musa fruits as a pathway for the entry of non‐EU Tephritidae into the EU territory

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Following a request from the European Commission, the EFSA Panel on Plant Health examined evidence as to whether the import of fruits of Musa (bananas and plantains) could provide a pathway into the EU for Bactrocera dorsalis (Hendel) (Diptera: Tephritidae) or other non‐EU Tephritidae for which Musa is a host. Relevant scientific and technical information, including unpublished information provided to the EFSA Panel on Plant Health by the European Commission from research conducted in Cabo Verde, were taken into account. The majority of EU imports of Musa fruit comes from Ecuador, Colombia and Costa Rica where B. dorsalis does not occur. Commercial Musa fruits are harvested at ‘green stage one’ before they begin to ripen naturally. Postharvest processes are designed to ensure that only high quality, unripe fruit are exported. Green stage one fruit are transported to the EU in controlled conditions and stimulated to ripen when exposed to exogenous ethylene in ripening rooms in the EU. There is no evidence that any Tephritidae can naturally infest commercial varieties of Musa fruit at green stage one or earlier. When experimentally infested with eggs of Tephritidae, larvae fail to develop in green stage one fruit. Physical and chemical changes that occur during fruit ripening enable B. dorsalis and 11 other species of Tephritidae to oviposit and develop in Musa at later stages of fruit development. Reports of B. dorsalis or other Tephritidae infesting bunches of Musa fruit are a consequence of the fruit being left to develop beyond green stage one in the field. There is no evidence that commercially grown fruits of Musa, for export to the EU, provide a pathway for the entry of non‐EU Tephritidae. Passengers bringing Musa fruit from countries where Tephritidae can infest ripened Musa fruit do however provide a potential pathway for the entry of non‐EU Tephritidae into the EU territory.

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