`European Commission Publishes Xylella Fastidiosa Factsheet - Olive Oil Times

European Commission Publishes Xylella Fastidiosa Factsheet

By Isabel Putinja
Jul. 27, 2015 10:17 UTC

The European Commission recently pub­lished a ques­tion-and-answer fact­sheet on the bac­terium Xylella fas­tidiosa on its Food Safety web­site.

The Xylella fas­tidiosa bac­terium has been respon­si­ble for the destruc­tion of olive groves in Italy’s Apulia region result­ing in the adop­tion of urgent European Union (EU) mea­sures to try to com­bat and con­tain the out­break and pre­vent its spread to other mem­ber states of the EU.

The intro­duc­tion to the fact­sheet points out that Xylella fas­tidiosa is one of the world’s dead­liest plant bac­te­ria which can have an enor­mous eco­nomic impact, and con­firms that the out­break affect­ing olive groves in Apulia is the only con­firmed out­break in the EU.

It explains that there are four dif­fer­ent sub­species of Xylella fas­tidiosa and that the strain iden­ti­fied in Apulia is a new genetic vari­ant which has so far only attacked olive and plum trees. The bac­terium is spread by spit­tle­bugs, cicadas and sharp­shoot­ers which feed on the infected plant tis­sue.

A study by the EU’s Food Safety Authority had warned that the risk of the deadly bac­terium spread­ing to regions in other EU coun­tries was very high. In the face of uncer­tainty and mis­in­for­ma­tion about the bac­terium and in an effort to edu­cate the gen­eral pub­lic, the European Commission has released the fact­sheet which answers six ques­tions:

  • What mea­sures have been taken by the Commission to pre­vent fur­ther spread into the Union ter­ri­tory?
  • How will the Commission pre­vent the fur­ther intro­duc­tion of Xylella fas­tidiosa from non-EU coun­tries?
  • Is there any finan­cial sup­port avail­able for farm­ers affected by Xylella fas­tidiosa
  • Could there be other causes for the decline of olive trees since some sci­en­tific papers argue that it is caused by a com­bi­na­tion of fungi which weaken the plants before being attacked by Xylella fas­tidiosa, and spe­cific treat­ments seem to exist?
  • How can Xylella fas­tidiosa be con­trolled?
  • What can I do as cit­i­zen to pre­vent fur­ther spread of Xylella fas­tidiosa in the EU?

A link to a map pro­vides an overview of the emer­gency mea­sures taken in Apulia which clearly indi­cates the infected zone under con­tain­ment, the 820 square km area where plants are being destroyed, and the buffer and sur­veil­lance zones.

A sec­ond link is a time­line of the EU actions taken to con­tain Xylella fas­tidiosa from 1992 to the present day.

The European Commission is plan­ning a research call on Xylella fas­tidiosa under its HORIZON 2020 pro­gram in order to pro­mote activ­i­ties to improve knowl­edge on the bac­terium and come up with solu­tions for its pre­ven­tion and con­trol.


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