`Genetics May Prove Valuable for Greek Olive Oil Producers - Olive Oil Times

Genetics May Prove Valuable for Greek Olive Oil Producers

Feb. 10, 2013
Costas Vasilopoulos

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In a time period of uncer­tainty and scarce eco­nomic resources, olive oil pro­duc­ers in Greece have to strive to sur­vive and they need all the help they can get. Technology could pro­vide a novel solu­tion and con­tribute to increas­ing the pro­duc­ers’ incomes.

Given the lack of funds to per­form the nec­es­sary olive fruit fly treat­ments, dru­pes are heav­ily dam­aged by the insect and the quan­tity and qual­ity of olive oil is inevitably reduced. But now new sci­ence shows promise by using genet­i­cally mod­i­fied flies to ster­ile female off­spring thus block­ing the egg lay­ing in the olive fruit. According to Oxitec, the com­pany that devel­ops the mod­i­fied flies, this is a low-cost, sus­tain­able solu­tion with no chem­i­cals and pos­ing no dan­ger to the envi­ron­ment since the flies that carry the mod­i­fied lethal gene even­tu­ally die out with­out trans­fer­ring it to oncom­ing gen­er­a­tions.

And this is the part where the prac­ti­cally non-exis­tent bloc of farm­ers would be of great impor­tance. There is an ongo­ing debate in the European Union about the pos­si­ble effects on nature by such prac­tices, but farm­ers ought to force the state to fully exam­ine the sci­en­tific facts and decide whether to sup­port it, or not. If the facts prove to be in favor of the mod­i­fied flies, then push for its adop­tion by the EU.

It is always dif­fi­cult to bal­ance devel­op­ment, envi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity and rules and reg­u­la­tions com­pli­ance and the whole idea depicted here for Greece is not to com­pletely neglect the envi­ron­men­tal fac­tor and rush for dubi­ous solu­tions, but instead be bold and get over con­sol­i­dated beliefs and view­points.

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