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Scientific Opinion on the pest categorisation of Beet leaf curl virus

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The Panel on Plant Health performed a pest categorisation of Beet leaf curl virus (BLCV) for the European Union (EU) territory. BLCV mainly infects Beta spp., as well as Spinacia spp., Tetragonia tetragonioides and the common weeds Atriplex spp. and Chenopodium spp. This putative Rhabdovirus is not a recognised virus species; it is only defined by particle morphology and by its circular propagative transmission by the lace bug Piesma quadratum. No efficient diagnostic assay is available for BLCV, which was reported in only Germany and Turkey. With a few exceptions, there is no record of BLCV after 1983. BLCV is listed in Annex IIAII of Directive 2000/29/EC. The virus itself is not expected to be affected by ecoclimatic conditions and its P. quadratum vector is widely distributed in the EU; thus, BLCV has the potential to establish and spread over large areas of the EU and cause significant damage in sugarbeet. However, it appears to have caused sporadic outbreaks in only some years, possibly associated with high vector populations. It does not appear to have had any significant impact in recent years, and it may now no longer be significantly present in agricultural production systems. This situation is possibly a consequence of current intensive sugarbeet crop management practices and of the ensuing reduction in vector populations. Owing to the very limited literature available on BLCV, a full pest risk assessment is highly unlikely to provide clearer insight into the risks associated with this virus than the present pest categorisation.