Following a workshop hosted by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) held in Brussels on November 12 and 13, 2015, the European Commission has announced that new funds are being made available for research into Xylella fastidiosa.

The two-day workshop aimed to examine the knowledge gaps and research priorities which were identified in EFSA’s scientific opinion published earlier this year, and reiterated in the conclusions of a workshop on methods to control Xylella fastidiosa held in Milan in July 2015.

On the second day, a representative of the Commission’s Directorate-General for Agriculture announced the call for research proposals and invited participants to apply for grants which would cover research on the prevention, detection, and control of Xylella fastidiosa.

Another aim of the announced scheme is to improve knowledge about the bacterium, and specifically to shed light into its vectors, interaction with hosts, vector, and pathogens, and epidemiology. The amount set aside is €7 million under Horizon 2020, the EU’s research and innovation funding scheme. The deadline for proposals is February 17, 2016.

Xylella fastidiosa, a bacterium spread by insects, has been blamed for the devastation of tens of thousands of acres of olive groves in the Apulia region of South Italy. More recently, strains of the bacterium have been discovered on the French island of Corsica, as well as in several areas of France.

The European Union is the largest global producer of olive oil, producing 73 percent of the world’s olive oil, while consuming 66 percent.

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