`Europe Proposes Cutting Down Millions of Olive Trees in Italy to Fight Outbreak


Europe Proposes Cutting Down Millions of Olive Trees in Italy to Fight Outbreak

Mar. 22, 2015
Isabel Putinja

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The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion has pro­posed cut­ting down up to 11 mil­lion olive trees in South Italy to con­tain the spread of Xylella fas­tidiosa. The bac­terium spread by insects has been blamed for the dev­as­ta­tion of over 74,000 acres of olive groves in the Salento region of Apu­lia (Puglia) in South Italy.

A study by the Euro­pean Food Safety Author­ity (EFSA) had warned that the Xylella fas­tidiosa could spread from South Italy to olive groves in other coun­tries in the Euro­pean Union (EU) and cause sig­nif­i­cant crop dam­age and loss.

The dras­tic mea­sures pro­posed by the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion will be dis­cussed and approved in Brus­sels in the com­ing weeks. Enrico Brivio, the senior Euro­pean Com­mis­sion spokesman for health and food safety, announced that the pro­posed mea­sures would include erad­i­ca­tion, buffer zones and a strict limit on the move­ment of young trees.” The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion is soon expected to announce new plans to com­pen­sate olive grow­ers affected by the cri­sis.
See more: Com­plete Cov­er­age of the Xylella Fas­tidiosa Out­break
The area iden­ti­fied for erad­i­ca­tion mea­sures 20,000 acres, an area which stretches between Lecce and Brin­disi where 12 per­cent of olive trees are infected with the bac­terium. Some of the olive trees are believed to be over 500 years old. Local grow­ers fear the region will become arid and desert-like, and that the growth of new trees will not be sus­tain­able.

Vyte­nis Andriukaitis, the Euro­pean Com­mis­sioner for Food Safety and Secu­rity, was quoted by the Daily Mail to be pro­foundly con­cerned by the grav­ity of the sit­u­a­tion,” and declared we have to take deci­sive mea­sures with imme­di­ate effect. Nat­u­rally it is very painful for the grow­ers but it is nec­es­sary to remove all the affected trees — it is the most effec­tive mea­sure.”

Mean­while, the Ital­ian com­mis­sioner respon­si­ble for the State Forestry of Apu­lia, Giuseppe Sil­letti, has declared that any action which is taken should not be hos­tile to the envi­ron­ment – by avoid­ing the uproot­ing of healthy trees and using pes­ti­cides to kill the harm­ful insects respon­si­ble for the spread of the bac­te­ria instead.

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