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

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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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