Genetics May Prove Valuable for Greek Olive Oil Producers

Opinion & Commentary

By Costas Vasilopoulos, on February 10, 2013

In a time period of uncertainty and scarce economic resources, olive oil producers in Greece have to strive to survive and they need all the help they can get. Technology could provide a novel solution and contribute to increasing the producers’ incomes.

Given the lack of funds to perform the necessary olive fruit fly treatments, drupes are heavily damaged by the insect and the quantity and quality of olive oil is inevitably reduced. But now new science shows promise by using genetically modified flies to sterile female offspring thus blocking the egg laying in the olive fruit. According to Oxitec, the company that develops the modified flies, this is a low-cost, sustainable solution with no chemicals and posing no danger to the environment since the flies that carry the modified lethal gene eventually die out without transferring it to oncoming generations.

And this is the part where the practically non-existent bloc of farmers would be of great importance. There is an ongoing debate in the European Union about the possible effects on nature by such practices, but farmers ought to force the state to fully examine the scientific facts and decide whether to support it, or not. If the facts prove to be in favor of the modified flies, then push for its adoption by the EU.

It is always difficult to balance development, environmental sustainability and rules and regulations compliance and the whole idea depicted here for Greece is not to completely neglect the environmental factor and rush for dubious solutions, but instead be bold and get over consolidated beliefs and viewpoints.

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This article was last updated November 29, 2014 - 7:58 PM (GMT-5)