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Friday, 16 December 2016

Importing Plant Diseases

Apologies for another rather gloomy posting but Nature takes control, despite a general wish for it to go away and stop bothering us.
 
I wrote on this blog some while ago about Xylella fastidiosa, which is regarded as the most harmful plant pathogenic bacteria in the world. The number of species identified as being susceptible has now reached 359.
 
Worryingly for this country the list includes Oak and Sycamore trees. The disease was first discovered in Italy 3 years ago and has since spread to Spain, France and Germany.

Our own Plant Health Inspectors are on the lookout for entry of the disease to this country but since many plant hosts do not show any symptoms, it seems only a matter of time before this country is affected.

This account from Malta, a small island like our own, is very descriptive of what we are up against:--http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20161216/opinion/Olive-quick-decline-syndrome.633992

The final paragraph is prophetic and I quote:--

"Prevention is better than cure, especially when there is no cure all. That would be the day when one can honestly boast of a sound environmental policy. From experience, political action in this regard will only be considered when the social, economic and environmental fabric have bit the dust".

I find this quote from the novel 'Tono Bungay' by H.G. Wells to be apposite:--

"It is like an early day in a fine October. The hand of change rests on it all, unfelt, unseen; resting for awhile, as it were half reluctantly, before it grips and ends the thing for ever. One frost and the whole face of things will be bare, links snap, patience end, our fine foliage of pretences lie glowing in the mire".

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