5 Sep 2003

Guarded optimism in Vanuatu for end of kava ban in Europe

3:32 pm on 5 September 2003

Vanuatu's biggest kava business Kava Store says it's optimistic that kava bans in Europe will be lifted following talks in Brussels.

A ban was imposed after kava extracts were believed to have caused liver damage and deaths of people in Germany, France and Switzerland.

Japan and Singapore have also banned kava products, adding to the economic woes of Pacific growers who have disputed the findings.

Kava Store manager, Charles Longwah, who was part of a regional delegation to Europe to appeal to the research authority B-Pharm in Germany, says they presented evidence to show the bans are wrong.

"Yes, it's a very good outcome. We have to reanalyse everything and we are asking for B-Pharm ,the research organisation in Germany, to recheck his information we feel is unjustified and we think is wrong."

Mr Longwah says they're victims of bigger pharmaceutical companies profiting from the bans.

He says the WTO meeting in Mexico will discuss the ban in Europe, which has cost Pacific farmers hundreds of millions of dollars in lost exports.