29 Nov 2007

Pacific kava scientist says there's a solid legal case for seeking compensation over ban

4:10 pm on 29 November 2007

A Vanuatu based kava scientist says Pacific countries have a solid legal case to claim compensation for damages over a ban on exports to Europe.

Vincent Lebot says the European Union is unlikely to open up markets again to kava following the bans first imposed in 2001 over claims it was toxic.

But a comprehensive study by the World Health Organisation says kava, in its raw form, is safe.

And the World Trade Organisation has backed the call to lift the restrictions and resume trade, as kava farmers from places like Vanuatu and Fiji have lost millions of dollars of export revenue.

Vincent Lebot says kava exporters could take legal action but that may not sit well with governments since the EU is such a major donor in the region.

"Maybe they dont' want to bite the hand that feeds them. Or they aren't willing to embark on some sort of controversial issue with the EU, but apparently there is no political will to claim for compensation. But they could do it because the WHO report is quite clear that kava is not toxic and so therefore the damage done to the name, the crop and to farmers from the Pacific is quite considerable."

Vincent Lebot.