Egypt denies importing Israeli crops after reports of cancer-causing tomatoes

The government does not import crops or seeds from Israel, Egypt's Agriculture Minister said on Tuesday, following news reports alleged that Israeli-imported tomato seeds used in Egypt had been genetically engineered to cause cancer.

In a press statement, Ayman Farid Abul Hadid said he ordered the formation of a committee comprised of Agriculture Ministry experts to investigate reports of Israeli tomato seeds in Wadi Natron, an area in Beheira Governorate.

Hadid said if the seeds were proven to have Israeli origins, they were probably smuggled into Egypt through an intermediary country, such as Cyprus or Greece. 

He said the cultivation of genetically-engineered tomatoes does not exist anywhere in the world, pointing out that this technology is only used in some corn and cotton plantations.

Genetic engineering in Egypt is limited to research not used commercially, Hadid said.

Hadid also announced that an estimated 525,000 acres of cotton were planted this season, as compared to 371,000 acres last year.

He explained that Egypt had made a deal to export 2 million quintals of cotton to China, India and Japan and that the expected price per quintal of cotton is LE1200.

Abul Hadid added that Egypt exports extra long staple cotton, whereas long and medium staple cotton grown in Upper Egypt is used by local factories. He said it was unlikely that Egypt would consider cultivating short staple varieties of cotton.

Translated from the Arabic Edition

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