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Food and Feed Safety (02-10-2008)

Experts discuss ways to control the spread of pinewood nematode in Portugal

The European Commission and the Portuguese Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries organise a seminar on possible control strategies for the plant pest pinewood nematode. This nematode is causing severe damage to Portuguese forestry and it could threaten European forestry and trade, in case it spreads out of Portugal and into the rest of Europe. The seminar will take place in Lisbon on 7-9 October 2008.
It will bring together leading world experts in pinewood nematode management and research and they will discuss ways of stopping the pinewood nematode from spreading. The seminar will involve experts from China, Korea, Japan and Taiwan, - all countries that experienced pinewood nematode invasions in the past- and scientists from Canada, the USA and Europe. The outcome of the seminar will be used as input for EU's the pinewood nematode control strategy.
The pinewood nematode (official name: Bursaphelenchus xylophilus) is a microscopic worm. It is native to North America, where the pine trees are generally resistant to it. European pine species are highly susceptible and entry and spread of the pest in Europe could have devastating effects for European pine forests, with severe impact on the natural environment and forestry. When it was first detected in the EU, in 1999 in Portugal's Setubal region, Community emergency measures were taken. A major effort was made between 1999 and now including the felling of 1 million trees and creation of a 20 km wide buffer, surrounded by a 3 km wide and 300 km long clear-cut belt.Recently, numerous outbreaks occurred again in Portugal and in June 2008, the Portuguese government declared the entire territory of continental Portugal to be infested with pinewood nematode.
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