Brazil says it has used the fungicide on oranges for 21 years

Brazil says it has used the fungicide on oranges for 21 years

Is it a coincidence that the fungicide saga has emerged less than a year after the US lost a World Trade Organisation case against Brazil over orange juice imports?

The idea that any level of fungicide residue might linger in my morning glass of orange juice is not something I savour. The Coca-Cola Co has confirmed, however, that it was the company that alerted the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) about residues in its own juice and that of its competitors. The 'competitors' are still unnamed, but I'll give you three guesses; you should only need one.

That said, I find the timing of this incident curious. Brazil and the US are the biggest producers of orange juice in the world and they spent the first part of last year peeling strips off each other at the World Trade Organisation. Brazil won, forcing the US to change the way that it imposes duties on imports of Brazilian orange juice.

It's interesting, then, surely, that here we are, six months later, talking about fungicide residues in Brazilian orange juice imports to the US. 

Brazil's ministry of agriculture said yesterday (11 January) that the fungicide in question, carbendazim, has been used by its growers to combat 'black spot' on orange trees for 21 years. The US has banned carbendazium. But, the FDA has said that, so far, it has no evidence that the levels found are harmful to health. 

As just-drinks' soft drinks reporter, Michelle Russell, said today: "If this fungicide is allowed in Brazil and the US receives imports from Brazil, then surely it's to be expected that the fungicide will be detected?" It's hard to argue against this logic.

What is the US playing at? Am I being too conspiratorial? Before answering, ask yourself this: If this was Russia in place of the US, what would everyone be saying?

Politics, of course.