Slovakian Minister of Agriculture Samuel Vlcan announced on Thursday, April 13, that inspections have discovered high amounts of chlorpyrifos in the Ukrainian grain while it was being processed by one of the largest grain mills in Slovakia.
Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate pesticide subject to a European Union-wide ban. (Related: Russia-Ukraine war could contribute to more severe food shortages, mass starvation for years to come, warns UN.)
Vlcan noted that he first sounded the alarm over the issue of potentially tainted Ukrainian grain as early as July 2022, when he ordered Slovakia to tighten controls over grain imports coming from the country.
"Even before we started placing seals on all transit trucks with Ukrainian grain, a relatively big sample of Ukrainian grain had been intercepted, and three independently accredited laboratories confirmed the presence of the increased content of pesticide residue in it," said Vlcan.
He added in another statement that the extent of the contamination of the grain was so severe that the entire shipment had to be burned. He also pledged that the government will ramp up the process of reviewing agricultural products from Ukraine for potential pesticides and other toxic substances.
Following the discovery of a contaminated batch of Ukrainian grain, the Slovakian Agriculture Ministry announced that it temporarily banned the processing and sale of grain from Ukraine due to the possible presence of pesticides banned by the EU.
"The decision was taken after a pesticide was confirmed in a batch of wheat from Ukraine weighing 1,500 tons, which is not authorized in the EU and has a negative impact on human health," the ministry noted in a statement emphasizing that it will collect samples of all Ukrainian grain and flour that is already in the country.
"We will also inform the ministers of agriculture from Bulgaria and Romania at today's meeting, which will be dedicated to the protection of the markets against the import of cheap goods from Ukraine," the ministry added.
Cheap Ukrainian grain has been flooding EU markets since the beginning of the Russian special military operation in Ukraine in February 2022, as the bloc attempts to keep the Ukrainian agricultural sector running and the country's economy afloat by making sure it can still sell its food products. This torrent of Ukrainian grain has been aided by the EU waiving customs duties and import quotas.
Slovakia's decision to ban further grain imports comes as other EU nations, particularly those in Eastern Europe, pass similar bans or are actively considering them.
Poland was one of the first nations to pass such bans. The country reached an agreement with Ukraine to halt grain imports until at least July due to the large and uncontrollable influx of cheap Ukrainian grain in Poland that has stoked the anger of Polish farmers.
Hungary followed Poland on Sunday, April 9, when it said it would introduce new measures to curb the volume of Ukrainian grain entering the country, citing concerns over large quantities of cheap Ukrainian agricultural products entering the country and hurting domestic markets.
Learn more about the global food situation at FoodCollapse.com.
Watch this clip from Romania showing hundreds of farmers on tractors protesting the massive influx of cheap Ukrainian grain into the market, ruining their livelihoods.