Increased Precision in Europe's New Xylella Fastidiosa Legislation

Along with shrinking the infection and buffer zones, the European Commission also admitted that the deadly plant pathogen could no longer be removed in some regions and called on E.U. member states to intensify their surveillance of the disease.
Photo by Cain Burdeau for Olive Oil Times
By Daniel Dawson
Aug. 21, 2020 07:30 UTC

The European Commission has announced new and more tar­geted” mea­sures to con­tain the spread of Xylella fas­tidiosa in the European Union.

The new reg­u­la­tions replace the pre­vi­ous ones, which came into force in 2015. The Commission made its deci­sions to change the pre­vi­ous reg­u­la­tions based on the lat­est research from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

See Also:Study Reveals Potential Economic Impact of Xylella on Spain, Italy, Greece

Among the biggest changes to the reg­u­la­tions is shrink­ing the infec­tion zone from a 100-meter (330-foot) radius of any infected plant to a 50-meter (165-foot) radius. However, the def­i­n­i­tion of which plants must be uprooted in the infec­tion zone has not changed sub­stan­tially.

The deci­sion to cut the infec­tion zone in half will likely be greeted with relief from farm­ers, many of whom argued that the orig­i­nal 100-meter zone was exces­sive and led to the destruc­tion of too many healthy trees.

Along with shrink­ing the size of the infec­tion zone, the asso­ci­ated buffer zone, which is meant to pre­vent the spread of Xylella fas­tidiosa to unaf­fected areas, has also been cut in half.

Under new reg­u­la­tions, the buffer zone that sur­rounds each infec­tion zone will extend another 2.5 to five kilo­me­ters (1.6 to 3.1 miles). The width of the buffer zone will be deter­mined based on whether the dis­ease is actively spread­ing and what erad­i­ca­tion mea­sures have been taken.

The orig­i­nal reg­u­la­tions spec­i­fied that all buffer zones must have a width of at least five to 10 kilo­me­ters (3.1 to 6.2 miles).

In the event that a sin­gle plant has been infected and erad­i­cated before the dis­ease has spread, the buffer zone will remain at one kilo­me­ter (0.6 miles), as was pre­vi­ously leg­is­lated.

Along with changes in the def­i­n­i­tion to these demar­cated areas, the new reg­u­la­tions also call on E.U. mem­ber states to inten­sify” their annual sur­veys in order to iden­tify out­breaks more quickly.

The European Commission also con­cluded that in cer­tain areas, includ­ing south­ern Puglia, the French island of Corsica and Spain’s Balearic Islands, erad­i­ca­tion of Xylella fas­tidiosa is no longer fea­si­ble and instead local author­i­ties should con­cen­trate their efforts on con­tain­ing the dis­ease.

If left unchecked, the E.U. fears Xylella fas­tidiosa would lead to an annual pro­duc­tion loss of €5.5 bil­lion ($6.5 mil­lion) and elim­i­nate 300,000 jobs.


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