News from Italy: Fight against the clock to save olive oil from deadly bacteria | World | New
The deadly disease is called Xylella and condemns olive trees to death, raising fears the industry could collapse completely. Speaking to ITV News, journalist James Mates explained how the disease has plunged the olive oil industry in the region of Puglia, Italy into chaos as the disease kills every tree it infected. The disease is carried by the flying spittlebug and would have arrived in Italy in 2013 from abroad. Farmers are now starting from scratch and planting disease-resistant olive trees to fight bacteria as olive oil supplies dry up.
Mr Mates said: “[The] A terrible infection has spread through the olive groves, killing almost every tree it touches.
“Even the magnificent olive trees that have existed for 400 years are not immune.”
He explained that there was “no treatment or cure for Xylella”, adding that “once infected, an olive tree is doomed to failure”.
The disease is believed to have arrived in Puglia in 2013.
JUST IN French vaccine “banned in France” thanks to EU now available for Brexit
Mr Mates pointed out how “almost certainly” the disease landed in Italy via a shipment of olive trees from Costa Rica.
He said: “Vast areas of this province are now wasteland for olive growers.”
And speaking to ITV, Giovanni Malcane, an olive grower, explained how he had to make the difficult decision to replant entire olive groves with bacteria-resistant trees to avoid repeating such a disaster in the future.
Showing acres of new olive trees he planted on his farm, he explains how growers like himself found themselves with little other option to stay afloat after seeing their groves “decimated” by Xylella.
READ MORE Italian pasta exports to Britain drop 25% as Britons snub European food after Brexit
According to the Royal Horticultural Society, the bacteria Xylella fastidiosa causes disease in a wide variety of plants.
The bacteria can infect more than 560 different plant species and cause symptoms such as leaf blight, wilting, dieback and plant death.
It has not been detected in the UK, but there have been major outbreaks in mainland Europe.
But the RHS adds that there are serious concerns about the risk of introducing Xylella via infected host plants imported into the UK.