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Biologist joins EU experts to tackle latest tree disease


Biologist joins EU experts to tackle latest tree disease

Monday 16 November 2015

A SALFORD scientist is part of a worldwide group of experts tackling the latest disease to hit the global food trade.


Xylella fastidiosa poses a “very serious threat” to olive trees and the EU’s huge olive oil industry.

The announcement of a seven million Euro pot for research into the disease was made this week by the European Commission after a scientific workshop in Brussels that focused on effective ways to tackle to spread of the pathogen.

The workshop, convened by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) was designed to bring together the world’s leading experts on the disease which first emerged in Southern Italy in 2013 and has since been detected in France.

Speaking after the two-day workshop, Dr Stephen Parnell, a mathematical biologist at the University of Salford, who chaired a group on surveillance, said that funding would be particularly focused on improving ways to detect new outbreaks..

"The question is what research do we need for more advanced methods of detection and how do we improve our ability to detect the pathogen, because it is very good at hiding from us."

He said the meeting had also discussed how the EC targets inspections on a larger scale so we are looking in the right place.

Dr Parnell, who was a member of a working group that contributed to the EFSA report, said the disease posed a threat to the whole EU.

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