EU experts endorse measures to prevent the spread of the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa

EU experts endorse measures to prevent the spread of the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa

05/29/2014 - EU Member States experts endorsed this week detailed emergency measures, proposed by the Commission, to prevent the introduction and spread within the EU of Xylella fastidiosa, a bacterium harmful to many crops.

The Commission remindedin a press release that, recently found for the first time on EU territories, the strain of Xylella fastidiosa identified in Italy (province of Lecce, in the Apulia region) attacks mainly olive trees, which show leaf scorching, branch desiccation and quick decline symptoms, leading in the most severe cases to the death of the trees.

Olive cultivation is widespread throughout the Mediterranean region and is vital for the rural economy, local heritage and the environment. Italy is, after Spain, the second biggest olive grower in the EU cultivating approximately 1,700,000 ha. 80% of this area is located in southern Italy, where Apulia represents the most important region, with about 370,000 ha cultivated with olives.

The Commission has detailed that insect vectors are responsible for the spread of the bacterium, while the movement of infected plants is responsible for its spread over long distances. The measures provide conditions on the import and movement of particular plants which host, or are likely to host this bacterium, its timely identification in the affected areas as well as its eradication.

The last measures include obligations to notify any outbreak, official annual surveys, demarcation of infected areas, sampling, testing and monitoring, and removal and destruction of infected plants. They replace the provisional measures adopted in February 2014.

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