The European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) said Wednesday that there is still no cure for the olive-tree-killing Xylella fastidiosa bacteria, warning that it poses a risk to plants and crops throughout the European Union, not just in the Mediterranean area.
Southern Europe countries are said to be at the greatest risk from a deadly disease described as a “very serious threat” to the EU’s olive industry.
ESFA said computer modelling has helped understand how it spreads, but there is no cure for infected plants.
Experts describe Xylella as one of the “most dangerous pathogens worldwide”.
It was first recorded in Italy in 2013 when an outbreak hit olive trees in Puglia, southern Italy.
It has since spread to other European nations.
Since then it has been reported in France (Corsica and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur), Spain (Balearics, Valencia, Madrid), central Italy (Tuscany) and Portugal (Porto). EU emergency control measures are in place in all of the outbreak areas, although there has been some resistance to the tree culls that are part of the plan in southern Italy.
“EFSA’s Plant Health Panel (PLH) used computer modelling to simulate how X. fastidiosa spreads across short and long distances under different conditions,” the agency said.
“The modelling showed the importance of implementing control measures, such as those specified by the European Commission, to prevent further spread and even eradicate outbreaks”.