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The Spanish island of Mallorca could be virtually razed of vegetation under an EU plan to halt the march of a deadly bacteria known as “ebola of the olive”, farmers in the region have warned. The bacteria Xylella fastidiosa, which has infected thousands of olive trees in southern Italy, is now raging across the Balearic Islands with carrier species multiplying, according to a recent assessment by the European Union. In July, it was detected for the first time on the Spanish mainland in almond trees in Alicante, raising fears it could wreak havoc in the world's largest producer of olive oil. The EU and the Balearics government are now discussing a containment plan which could force eradication of all vegetation within a 100 metre radius of infected plants, Spain’s El Confidential newspaper reported. With infections confirmed at 156 separate points across Mallorca, agricultural groups say the measure would mean the almost complete destruction of the island’s plant life. Spain is the world's largest producer of olive oil Credit: PAUL GROVER “If we comply with what Europe is asking us, it would be starting to fell at one end of the island and finishing at the other. I don’t know if eradicating all the plant life is the solution, but I am sure that, in Mallorca, this is impossible to apply,” Gonzalo Rodríguez, head of the Camp Mallorquí cooperative of 1,000 producers, told the paper. The Balearics authorities had won a reprieve from the eradication measure after the bacteria was detected on the islands late last year, arguing that it would be a “disaster” for the local environment. The bacteria, which can infect some 300 species, was first discovered in a cherry tree in a Mallorca garden centre in October. After tests elsewhere on the Balearic Islands came back positive, the local government declared the entire archipelago an outbreak zone, banned the export of live plants and began destroying infected specimens. But a June assessment by the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) came back with alarming news: the response had been too limited, and even with the total application of EU measures, eradication will now be “very difficult” to achieve. The number of carrier plants was also growing, it said, now taking around a dozen species including grape vines, almond and plum trees and lavender. In Alicante, local authorities and agricultural groups have backed eradication as the only option. But resistance among some farmers is growing: last week protesters blocked machinery brought in to fell trees around an infected plant, El Confidencial reported.
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Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for the body. It is usually of plant or animal origin, and contains essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals. The substance is ingested by an organism ...