So Nigel Farage and Beppe Grillo meet today in Brussels after Beppe had had a good meeting on the plane flying North with the leader of Liga Nord that rather strange party that want part of Northern Italy ( the wealthy bit) to break away and go independent. Seems they are all going into partnership in the EU parliament to ” have some fun” as Nigel put it afterwards.
Ex Premier Mario Monti in a little bit of an hissy fit in Berlin said that Renzi and the PD had stolen all his ideas . Meanwhile Renzi himself is busy saying how he and Italy will lead the changes to be made in Brussels and here I thought David Cameron was the one doing that. At the moment they seem to consist of lifting the restrictions on governments spending of more than 2.5% of GPD that try to contain the debt levels. Renzi whose spending plans seem unfunded would of course want this.
As all this was going on there was a conference down here to decide what to do about the hundred thousand or so olive trees so far affected by the deadly disease Xylella Fastidosa.
Perhaps surprisingly the first measure is to lift most of the restrictions on the transportation of plants from the area. Instead of a blanket ban they yesterday decided to restrict the movement of just olive trees, almond trees and oleander as they are believed to be the only carriers. I know nothing about the disease other than it’s clearly devastating effect on Salento’s olive groves but in other countries it is normally found in vines and there are not only an awful lot of them in Salento but lots are moved around as well.
Contrary to what the environmental groups and the protesters say they have agreed to continue culling infected trees and indeed want to cull trees near infected areas as well to prevent the disease spreading. Bulldozers will be used for the task they say.
Yes well I don’t have a photo of a bulldozer so you’ll have to make do with chain saw man.
It is clearly very serious and the disease spreads quickly . There is no known cure for it and so as it spreads more and more trees die.
Still help is at hand with the arrival a couple of days ago of Professor Alexander Purcell III from the University of California Berkeley who is the go to man for this disease amongst others. I won’t bore you with his whole bio but this is what it says he specialises in ” Insects and plant diseases, Pierce’s disease of grape, Xylella fastidiosa, almond leaf scorch disease, citrus variegated chlorosis, coffee decline, coffee leaf scorch leafhopper vectors of bacterial pathogens bacterial symbiosis of leafhoppers, aphids and other sap-feeding insects.”
That’s our boy in the photo and the paper says he has already been to see the trees. Rather nicely a straight translation from Italian in the paper would read ” After a visit to the bedside of the sick olive trees in Terra d’Otranto ” . I have this mental picture of a ward full of beds each containing an olive tree and our man in a white coat visiting each one and then turning to the nurse who is looking hopeful and slowly shaking his head. Then the camera pans in close up to the nurse and we see the tears begin to brim in her eyes. But maybe I have seen to many films !
He is holding a seminar tomorrow to talk through his findings and discuss further ways of preventing the spread so I guess we will hear more then.
I have blogged before about the importance of Puglia to the olive oil export industry of Italy ( we produce over 40% of the total) so maybe it would be better if rather than Wheel of Fortune Renzi rabbiting on about reforming the EU and Monti whinging while Beppe and Nigel have fun, the politicians spent a little more time thinking about this crisis and how easily it could spread not just to the rest of Puglia but to the whole of Italy in pretty short order.