A deadly disease estimated to have killed a million olive trees in Italy has spread to France.
The French agriculture ministry announced the discovery of the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa, known as olive tree leprosy, on two trees in the south of the country and said the infected trees would be destroyed to stop it spreading.
Ministry officials said the two decorative olives were found to have the same subspecies of the disease that killed an estimated 1m valuable ancient olive trees in Italy. All trees and plants vulnerable to the bacterium within a three-mile radius are to be destroyed and burned.
There is no known cure or prevention for the disease, which blocks the plant or trees’ ability to take up water. Michel Dessus, the president of the chamber of agriculture in the Alpes-Maritimes, where the two infected trees were discovered, said more tests were needed before swathes of vegetation were destroyed. “Cutting down trees more than a hundred years old needs to be thought about,” he told French television.
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