European Press review: E. coli outbreak

EU and Russian media comment on Germany's E. coli outbreak as Russia bans EU fresh-vegetable imports and Spanish growers struggle.

GERMANY - analysis by Peter-Philipp Schmitt in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (conservative daily)

In the space of a few days, the health-conscious German nation has become a crisis zone... It was somewhat reassuring that cucumbers from Spain could be quickly identified as the source of infection... In the end, that lead proved to be false. But what if the EHEC outbreak is home-made? Could the over-industrialisation of the industrial nation of Germany be the cause? Profit in agriculture at any cost?

SPAIN - editorial in La Vanguardia (Barcelona daily, fourth best-selling in country)

One of the issues on which leaders must exercise greater caution is that of public health. Wrong information, a rash statement or an ill-kept secret may lead to a spiral of public alarm with disastrous consequences. This is a rule of thumb that any modern and mature society should respect to the utmost, especially when globalisation has made a village of the world.

RUSSIA - headline on (news website, one of the most popular news resources in the Russian blogosphere)

Gherkin non grata

RUSSIA - editorial in Vedomosti (business daily founded by the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal)

How good it is that Russia is not a member of the WTO [World Trade Organization]! Had we joined the WTO, our chief sanitary doctor, Gennady Onishchenko, could not have just slapped a ban on the import of fresh vegetables from the EU. There would have had to be negotiations, a joint commission... and if one of the parties had still been unhappy, it could have complained to the WTO and sought compensation for its losses... like Spain will try to do with its complaint about Germany.

As the doctors tell us, any bowel infection, including that provoked by E. coli, is an illness of dirty hands. And if washing vegetables is not enough to safeguard against infection, washing hands will hardly do it either. We must urgently ban the import of all hands from Europe, ie refuse entry to their owners. And if any of them get through, we must pare those hands back to the stems.

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