Very disturbing information has emerged recently in several foreign news outlets: the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa is threatening to destroy the centuries-old olive trees in Italy. According to The Daily Mail newspaper, the microbe, which was previously located only in America, has already infected 800,000 olive trees in the municipality of Salento, located in the Italian province of Apulia.
The province produces more than a third of the national harvest of olives, i.e. about 11 million tons of olives per year. The produced varieties of olive oil in Apulia are among the best in the world. The epidemic has already cost the producers nearly 250 million Euros and it is expected that losses will only continue to increase. As noted by Angelo Corsetti, the representative of the Italian agricultural organization Coldiretti, the Italian olive oil producers now need to create a sanitary zone covering an area of 8,000 hectares, where olive trees will have to be destroyed.
Concern about the spreading of the Xylella fastidiosa epidemic is also being expressed by olive oil producers in other Mediterranean countries: by Southern European countries (particularly in Greece, Spain and France), North African countries (Tunisia and Morocco) and Middle East states, where the cultivation of olive trees is a centuries-old tradition and remains the foundation of agricultural production.
According to experts, the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa of the class Gammaproteobacteria is a serious pathogen of plants and earlier was never located in the Mediterranean area, coming there from America. It is located in 30 US states, mainly Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Texas, Virginia and several other states.
According to US experts, the pathogen attacks not only olive trees, but also a number of grape varieties such as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. This fact has already caused increasing concern on the part of wine producers in the entire Mediterranean, afraid that the epidemic will spread to their vineyards.
In addition, a very dangerous situation involving the spreading of the Xylella fastidiosa bacterium has developed in the banana market. The banana fungus epidemic has already ruined plantations in Southeast Asia and is now spreading to the Middle East and Africa, threatening the global banana market. Affected is the root system of banana trees of the Cavendish variety, which accounts for 95% of global exports. Traces of the disease have been discovered in Latin America, Jordan and Mozambique.
According to the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization (EPPO), the first indications of the olive tree epidemic appeared in southern Italy in mid-October 2013, when a member of the general public posted a message about this on his Facebook page. Several independent sources have pointed out that the Xylella fastidiosa bacteria were brought to Europe from the USA through imported vines and the German corporation BAYER has even created a computer code for the bacterium: XYLEFA.
In such circumstances, European farmers are wondering why the EU authorities did not take timely action to prevent and localize the Xylella fastidiosa epidemic. Why were they, as of late carried away by political games and sanction policies in line with the anti-Russian policy in Washington, not concerned about the domestic problems of European farmers and why did they not impose tougher quarantine policies for agricultural products contaminated with the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa? As a result the financial losses from this epidemic are only increasing. European observers are under the impression that no one is carrying out a thorough investigation on how the EU contamination of agricultural products began by the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa, and who should be responsible for the blunders. Under present conditions, only food speculators are raising prices and rubbing their hands.
Experts and farmers of the Mediterranean are also trying to figure out why the United States, actively developing its biological defense system (BDS) on its own territory and abroad, failed to timely localize the spreading of the epidemic, since, to some extent, the US bears responsibility for allowing the epidemic to spread beyond its borders. Previously, the bacterium was located only on the American continent.
By constantly expanding the BDS, the United States is actively connecting new states to the program and in 2012 alone spent more than 60 million dollars for these purposes. In recent years, the White House has engaged several countries to the program, which involves several hundred Pentagon created biological laboratories located abroad; the countries include Afghanistan, Pakistan, Burundi, Kenya, Uganda, India, Iraq, Tanzania, South Africa, Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. The people of these countries cooperating with the United States under the BSO program are not being informed of the Pentagon’s secret projects in this field. Work under the BDS program is carried out with the active participation of the Pentagon and American intelligence services. And the result, as is the case with the spreading of the Xylella fastidiosa bacterium, makes you wonder about the genuine goals and directions of the BDS program implemented by the US government and paid for by American taxpayers.
Vladimir Platov, Middle East expert, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.