Source: European Parliament
According to a recent study, the entire production of olive oil, the main agricultural product of the Mediterranean, is being jeopardised by the reappearance of the phytopathogenic bacterium Xylella fastidiosa, which becomes established and multiplies in the wood of olive trees, clogging their vessels, compromising their ability to transport water and nutrients and leading to sickly growth and eventually necrosis. The bacterium is spread through the introduction of already infected plants or through insects carrying the disease. This is a particularly dangerous epidemic with very serious economic and environmental consequences, which in Greece may result in economic losses of EUR 2 billion. Nearly 1 million olive trees have already been destroyed in neighbouring Italy, resulting in losses estimated at EUR 5 billion.
Given the above and taking into account the fact that the destructive spread of the bacterium can be prevented by taking the necessary measures, will the Commission say:
1. What measures does it intend to take to prevent the spread of this pathogenic bacterium?
2. Does it plan to impose additional restrictions on imports and exports of olive trees in order to prevent the spread of the bacterium through infected trees?
3. Are any plans afoot to create special information programmes to help oil producers tackle the disease and to provide them with subsidies for the purchase of special drugs?