Europe

Stopping Xylella a 'Top Priority,' Greek Official Says

No manifestation of the disease has been documented in Greece, and the deputy minister of Rural Development said he wants to keep it that way.

Jan. 17, 2018
By Costas Vasilopoulos

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The Xylella Fas­tidiosa bac­terium has been haunt­ing olive oil grow­ers in Italy and other areas of the Mediter­ranean for some years now.

It is cru­cial that the con­trol mech­a­nisms are prop­erly manned to act proac­tively and track path­o­genic agents before becom­ing dis­as­trous for our pri­mary sec­tor pro­duc­tion.- Vas­silis Kokkalis, deputy min­is­ter of Rural Devel­op­ment and Food

Greece remains unaf­fected by the dis­ease and recently, the deputy min­is­ter of Rural Devel­op­ment and Food, Vas­silis Kokkalis, assessed the case of path­o­genic agents in plants and Xylella fas­tidiosa par­tic­u­larly.

Dur­ing the sev­enth Regional Con­ven­tion for the Ref­or­ma­tion of Pro­duc­tion that took place in Corfu, Kokkalis first stressed the impor­tance of strength­en­ing the con­trol mech­a­nisms in order to pre­vent cat­a­strophic agents from cross­ing the bor­der into Greece.

In the era of con­tem­po­rary trade, plants, prop­a­ga­tion mate­r­ial, and agri­cul­tural prod­ucts from around the world arrive daily at our bor­der check points. It is cru­cial that the con­trol mech­a­nisms are prop­erly manned to act proac­tively and track path­o­genic agents before becom­ing dis­as­trous for our pri­mary sec­tor pro­duc­tion,” he said.

Kokkalis then focused on the Xylella bac­te­ria and set the bar high regard­ing cut­ting off the agent by stat­ing Xylella Fas­tidiosa is an aggres­sive pathogen found in neigh­bor­ing Italy with no rem­edy yet avail­able, caus­ing thou­sands of olive trees to be cut down. The top pri­or­ity for the Min­istry now is to pre­vent the pathogen from enter­ing the coun­try.”

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No man­i­fes­ta­tion of the dis­ease has been doc­u­mented in Greece, despite an announce­ment made last July on air by Spy­ros Mamalis, head of the Geot­ech­ni­cal Cham­ber of Greece, that the bac­terium had infected trees in the Pelo­pon­nesus region.

Fur­ther exam­i­na­tion per­formed by spe­cial­ized lab­o­ra­to­ries deter­mined that Xylella was not the cul­prit for dam­age caused on the trees and that the announce­ment was false alarm. A con­se­quent press release by the Min­istry of Rural Devel­op­ment con­firmed that no bac­te­ria of the Xylella fas­tidiosa pathogen had been detected and called for cau­tion and proper judge­ment to pre­vail.

But apart from Greece, Xylella fas­tidiosa is a top pri­or­ity for the Euro­pean Union as a whole. In a high level meet­ing that was held in Paris last month, the EU Com­mis­sioner for Food Safety and Secu­rity Vyte­nis Andriukaitis and the Min­is­ters of Agri­cul­ture from ten Euro­pean coun­tries con­sid­ered to be directly threat­ened by the bac­terium (Italy, Spain, Greece, Cyprus, France, Croa­tia, Malta, Por­tu­gal, Ger­many, and Slove­nia) agreed on a road map to apply stricter mea­sures in order to con­tain it.

The roadmap includes mea­sures like knowl­edge improve­ment through the sup­port of research pro­grams, sur­veil­lance strength­en­ing for timely detec­tion, and rein­forc­ing aware­ness and infor­ma­tion actions.


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