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Unable to preserve an environment variable or to redefine it

Dear developers,

I have a question concerning debuild / dpkg-buildpackage CLI options. In
particular "man debuild" says:

=== cut ==
If  a particular environment variable is required to be passed through
untouched to the build process, this may be specified by using a
--preserve-envvar envvar (which can also be written as -e envvar
option). [...]  It  is also possible to avoid having to type something
like FOO=bar debuild -e FOO by writing debuild -e FOO=bar or the long
form debuild --set-envvar FOO=bar.
=== cut ==

When I use this option:

# debuild -sa -us -uc --set-envvar JAVA_HOME=test

I got the following error:

debuild: unknown dpkg-buildpackage/debuild option: --set-envvar
debuild: unknown dpkg-buildpackage/debuild option: JAVA_HOME=test
 dpkg-buildpackage -rfakeroot -D -us -uc -sa --set-envvar JAVA_HOME=test
dpkg-buildpackage: unknown option or argument --set-envvar
debuild: fatal error at line 1325:

I also tried the suggested "--preserve-envvar JAVA_HOME" and
"-e JAVA_HOME" with similar error.

So, how is it possible to preserve a variable and/or to (re-)define it?
Looks to be a trivial problem, but I am completely stuck.

Thanks in advance for any hint!

Additional info:

devscripts 2.10.69

With best regards,

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