NEWS » Parasites cause 1 billion euros damage to Italy

Parasites cause 1 billion euros damage to Italy

One billion Euro of damage has been caused in Italy by the invasion of parasites of plants and trees consequential to climate change and increased trade relations. Unknown parasites arrived in Italy and farmers were taken by surprise and therefore adequate preventive measures couldn't be taken.


Coldiretti, the association that gathers together almost half the number of Italian farmers, studied the phenomenon in detail during a conference that has just highlighted the damage caused by new parasites.


The parasites have unfamiliar names, often even scary to pronounce: Drosophila suzukii and Aetina tumida, the Tristeza and Xylella are just a few. They found their home and compatible environment in many cultivations, symbols of the “Made in Italy”, such as olives, chestnuts, tomatoes and citrus trees, fruit and honey. These crops have shown a worrying slowdown in production.

 

There aren't at the moment magic recipes to cure the plants and a strategy to attack the parasites is still lacking. Farmers have been requesting the state of natural disaster.

At the National Research Council, several teams are studying the problem in depth to try to find a contrasting strategy, but there aren't significant results or a uniformity of approach yet.

 

One example is that of the Xylella and the olive trees that were infested: some said that the trees needed to be cut down, while others suggested a different solution. As a preventing measure France has put an embargo to a hundred plant products coming from Puglia fearing to import the bacteria.

 

Parasites now threaten also Italy's pine nuts production as thousands of pine trees in northern Italy, that provide much of the country’s pine nuts necessary to make Pesto, are being destroyed by three deadly parasites that have no known treatment.

 

Italian authorities have been fighting the Matsucoccus feytaudi insect, which is red-brown in colour and measures between 1-2cm, since it arrived from France in the 1970s.

 

It first began attacking trees in Liguria, before making its way south to Tuscany, where it is now combining with two more parasitic beetles to decimate entire pine forests.

 

In the town of Grosseto in southern Tuscany, 900 pines must be felled to stop the spreading of the disease. Local authorities said that nothing can me done apart from slowing down the progress of the disease because neither a cure nor preventive treatment has been found to stop the reproduction of the parasites.

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