In preparation for this very serious issue, since that the only thing I can do is to minimize the risk of infection, I tell all personnel to spray bleach on trimming scissors for each tree, the case of high density orchards, and for every 10-15 trees (or each row) in super high density orchards.
I also try to monitor for infection vectors like Cicadellidae, and for possible ill trees in the vicinities.
I will report any suspect case to the authorities, be it my neighbours' or my own.
I am also looking for affordable insurance that covers this kind of problem.
Also related to new agricultural issues arising from globalisation and worthy of attention are the zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha), the water hyacinth (Eichhornia ssp.), and the Asian clam (Corbicula fluminea) that obstruct irrigation pipes.
It's fascinating the variety of people who contribute here, and I'm wondering what would bring a Portuguese farmer to a site centered around technology and entrepreneurship.
(I suppose I could equally ask why this site would be discussing a bacterial outbreak in Italian olive trees, and the answer could be "because it's interesting" to both questions.)
I am also a physicist by training, and thus my interest in technology in general. Agriculture is becoming increasingly technological, and everything from farming gadgets to John Deere tractors hacking has come up many times. There are even some Plasma Physics applications to agriculture, so the interdisciplinarity never ends!
The "because it's interesting" is also an accurate answer!
You can't just casually mention this without further explanation! :D
> In explaining the results, Koga says that the plasma treatment speeds up the cell cycle so that the plant and seeds grow faster overall, with reactive oxygen species playing a key role in the effects.
Very cool! :)
> Nevertheless, Edward Bormashenko, professor of chemical engineering and biotechnology at Ariel University in Israel, says the situation was “more complicated than these results might indicate.” Pointing to his own team’s plasma research using seeds of lentils, beans, and wheat, he says: “There is no general approach available yet that can be applied to different kinds of seeds. Much depends on the types of seeds used, the conditions under which they geminate, and other factors.”
That is really cool, but I immediately have a follow-up question: given that plants also rely on a healthy soil ecosystem, which means symbiotic bacteria, and that this plasma treatment definitely will kill any trace bacteria on the skins of these cells, has it been explored if this has any effect?
Kind of like how you read all these stories of how the increase in C-sections results in a loss of transfer of healthy symbiotic bacteria from the mother to the child.
It's actually really interesting what you can do with plasma's in a biomedical context: bacteria are killed off really quickly by them because they lack a cell wall, without destroying human cells. At higher intensities, the plasma first breaks down the proteins connecting cells without killing them. At even higher intensities, they trigger apoptosis: programmed cell death without inflammations. Oh, and cancer cells are less resilient against them.
In the case of Stoffels' plasma needle, the idea was that it would destroy the infection while leaving healthy tissue intact. Not only that, her team found that the plasma's ionized the teeth in such a way that enamel production was increased. It sounded amazing at the time, but I guess it's hard to get this stuff out of the lab into the medical market though, since it has been over fifteen years now.
CORRECTION: I mixed up my terminology here. Bacteria have a cell wall (as do plants), human cells have a cell membrane. But our cell membrane, as well as the cell wall of plant cells, are better at keeping the plasma ions out than the bacterial cell wall. In fact, the reason high plasma doses trigger apoptosis is because we actually use plasma ions as a cellular communication channel, IIRC. Would be hard to do that if our cells weren't protected against free plasma ions, right?
So the point still stands that bacteria die from plasma ion bombardment at doses that are harmless to human and plant cells.
I love the level of organization and precision that industry is gaining. It's a good inspiration for software in other traditional areas (combined with practical AI applications and DIY hardware as well).
A couple times a year it really pays off with random Gold you wouldn't get from any other forum.
depends, the european CAP has subsidized old-style agriculture which has left many regions way behind, and the regulatory frameworkd is so tight that, despite the fact that many countries are producing a lot of research (on GMOs for example), it's not likely to ever be used.
I wonder how big is technology adoption in Portugal
Regulations also help with avoiding surpluses, raising the bar for food safety, and have the added benefit of (arguably) fostering adaptability while giving the Union a relative protection from external markets.
Regarding the technological adoption in Portugal, I guess it depends on the sector you're considering. I really can't speak for other areas, but in the case of agriculture there have been some major investments in the past that allow for more productive practices even if not supported by major breakthroughs. It's mostly automation of harvesting, adoption of new practices and new pesticides, quality control and more training.
I hope someday I will be able to show HN some simple electronics of my own.
Do you have advices or references to read about this ?
Do you have any ideas on what you want to grow?
I checked the Caribbean Agriculture Agricultural Research and Development's website (www.cardi.org) for some information. They have annual reports, that stop at 2011 for some reason. I would read some of them to get an idea of what are the current trends.
One idea that comes to mind after reading the 2011 report is producing high quality seeds. Grain prices for direct consumption are not as interesting.
I would also search for local farming associations to get to know what people are doing.
I suspect that the Caribbean will be more susceptible to climate change than other regions, so food security might become very important in a near future.
Many thanks for the links, I don't think I would have googled for that.
I will ask local farmers when I get the chance to, but few reports that I had by inhabitants is that .. farming is mostly avoided (laziness, pollution, whatever). To the point where they import things that used to grow locally from netherlands.
I'm also surprised about the climate change thing, I imagined a volcanic island to be too dynamic to be affected as much as, say, Europe.
I never understood the obsession with oleander around these parts. It's (in my humble opinion) not any prettier than "native" ornamentals, and it's toxic to boot.
Add to that list that it's apparently an eager vector for X. fastidiosa...
I wish all growers were as responsible and fore-sighted as you, good luck.
One way to minimize the risk is to quarantine the batches in stub nurseries, and to be as zealous as one can regarding the sanitary passports.
In the past, Alentejo had many orchards that, thanks to the State policy of the dictatorial regime, were drastically replaced by large fields for cereal production. This resulted in what is now known as the pseudo-steppe (of a particular ecological interest), which is recognized today as the traditional landscape of Alentejo.
Many regret the sudden change into olive production, but few know how things were different a century ago.
Só aí à dois anos é que aprendi que o eucalipto que tanto cobria o mato ao redor da aldeia, quando eu era pequeno, não é natural na europa.
Even worse, the DNR doesn't really want to get involved for fear of upsetting the ecosystem. Someone went as far as to make a machine that makes faux sand from zebra mussel shells (which pile up everywhere along the shore), but he got shutdown because of the unknown environmental impact.
There has been a push by some people to plant multiple perennials in the same fields to improve soil quality but also to reduce the ease of spread of pathogens (because the next potential host is far away by insect and spore standards).
Would it make sense in this case, especially if you’re cleaning tools as a prophylaxis as well?
There are some annuals that might be interesting, such as clover, that help with erosion and nitrogen fixation. Native plants serve as buffers for auxiliary species and some (Brassicaceae) act as a prophylactic against fungal infections (Verticillium). Innoculation with mycorrhizae also helps.
Perennials might be interesting in riparian zones, to help with drainage and unusual surges of flow.
I don't think it will matter, because many times the problem starts at the nursery. There are many nurseries, both inside the EU but also outside, like Morocco for example. When orchards are being installed across the country, it really could start anywhere. Weather does not seem to have any importance in the spreading of the disease.
What happened with the palm weevil (Rhynchophorus ferrugineus) doesn't necessarily apply here: X. fastidiosa infects a wide range of plants including ornamental plants, so it is really a matter of 'when', not 'if' or 'where'.
As of February 2017, there were 132 confirmed cases in Balearic Islands that are now considered lost for the bacteria. As far as I know, there are no confirmed cases in Morocco, which is why many farmers look there for safe nurseries.
"These plant defenses do not seem to hinder the movement of X. fastidiosa. Occlusion of vascular tissue, while a normal plant response to infection, makes symptoms significantly worse: as the bacteria itself also reduces vascular function, a 90% reduction of vascular hydraulic function was seen in susceptible Vitis vinifera."
Some type of low energy Bluetooth moisture sensors or a sensor you can stick in the tree itself to monitor reduction in "vascular hydraulic function? of it's xylem tissue?
Source: did industrial 900 MHz and 2.4 GHz module testing, once upon a time.
Phylloxera attacks the root, and so grafting with resistant stocks protects the scion.
In the case of X. fastidiosa, the bacteria can spread on the whole adult structures of the plant when infected vectors feed on the xylem, so grafting is not a solution.
In Portugal, Phylloxera became a synonym for madness, since the losses were colossal. I fear that Xylella fastidiosa might become the next "madness"...
Climate change has brought difficulties in weather forecasting and dam management. Major rivers in Portugal have their sources in Spain, which gives this country a relative position of power in water storage in times of need. In the past, Portugal did make the case that Spain did not respect the law regarding water usage. Weather extremes are also important because of damage and insurance coverage.
Irrigation based in artificial reservoirs creates the risk of salination, which is already being monitored. I get regular reports on the quality of the water I use.
I wonder if there's enough of a market that producing wood would incentivize cutting down infected trees. The grain is visually very distinctive and appealing and the items themselves weren't particularly cheap.
This points to the conclusion that some pruning of olive trees is going on on a regular basis. At the same time we saw plenty of gnarly old trees and wondered what the different philosophies of olive tree pruning/cycling are.
Taster: "This eh... oil is eh... very particular (...) It's Spanish!"
Journalist: "It's Spanish? I wouldn't know."
T: "Hah, now you know! This smell is very characteristic of Spanish olive oil."
J: "But this is not a defect, is it?"
J: "It's defective?"
J: "Because it's Spanish?"
Other taster: "For Italian people, yes."
A few minutes later, the boss comes with a more diplomatic answer:
"That the olive oil is Spanish is not a defect per sé, but within our guidelines we do consider it a defective product, because our own oil has a very specific smell and flavour. It's a fine product for Spain, but not for us."
EDIT: for the Europeans: the same program also revealed that Carbonell and Bertolli are the same Spanish company with a different label, with pretty much the same (mostly) Spanish olive oil. In case you care about that sort of thing. Personally I'm kind of curious how Greek olive oil fits in this picture.
Greek olive oil exporters have a hard time exporting it to retail , because it is hard to secure the large quantities needed and it varies seasonally. Also a lot of it is consumed domestically, often not even sold in supermarkets, but directly from producers. The rest of it is exported in bulk in cheap prices, mainly in Italy.
We make our own olive oil, it is not a commercial endeavour so quality is first above everything else even though this variety is a PITA to grow. It is difficult to prune, more susceptible to various fungal diseases, has a tendency to produce on alternating years but the flavor makes up for those troubles.
We have almost 100 trees of a common variety ("Oblica") that is regarded as very mild, and a few local varieties ("Lastovka", etc) which is usually considered very spicy and flavorful.
But I've made mellow Lastovka oil and sensational Oblica. There are a lot of variables to manage.
P.S. Naš je najlipše ulje. Naravno.
If you happen to visit a wine growing region try instead to go olive oil tasting. Typically the two go together and I find different olive oils much more interesting. In addition if you bring back 2 or 3 good bottles of oil they will last much longer than 2-3 bottles of wine.
Is there a taste/test that someone like me, who is a neophyte and definitely not an expert, could distinguish/use?
If you're buying in a supermarket, you are almost always buying oil blends from multiple countries. Read the back of the label where a guide tells you where the oil came from; if you're lucky you can find one bottle that only came from one country. If at all possible, check the websites of the different options and see what production methods they use. Go with either first cold pressed (no added heat, pressed with mats to extract oil) or 2-centrifuge process.
If you're buying in an oil and vinegar tasting room, sample everything and go with what tastes best to you, because that's mostly the purpose of buying EVOO (in addition to the nutritional benefits of well produced EVOO). Ask the seller more questions and you will probably find that almost all the oils there are centrifuge-made, and they'll have maybe one bottle of mat-pressed oil in the back that's more expensive, and probably tastes drastically different than the rest.
You basically want to buy an expensive EVOO, and a cheap olive oil; the difference being that you would use regular olive oil for cooking, and EVOO for flavoring.
My grandparents would pick olives and press them. We would toast big loaves of bread on the coals and drench them in this fresh oil. It tastes totally different to what you can buy in the store (at least what I have had), or even how it tastes a week later. The peppery and acidic notes are surprisingly prominent, giving it a savoury quality that is very moreish. The texture is also quite different, it is thick and rich and heavy, but not greasy at all. It is kind of magic.
Weirdly enough that reminds me of colostrum, or first milk:
When I tasted it I thought it was unreal. It was that good.
I don't remember the restaurant or even where it was, but do remember the tasting experience!
For those people who may be having trouble understanding the comparison, this reaction would be the same reaction as if we were tasting supermarket hummus and legitimately homemade hummus.
One is McDonalds dry; the other is Michelin star silk.
Another example: supermarket guacamole (that green weird-tasting paste) vs. guacamole from real avocados freshly made.
In the EU, the only requirement for being legally allowed to call something "guacamole" is that it contains avocado as an ingredient. In practice, that is usually a few percentages of avocado powder.
About the article, my honest first thought was, "Does it matter? They already weren't selling olive oil in the first place, now they just have to pretend harder."
It's not like there aren't legitimate reasons to back a study that might reveal something you've long suspected, e.g. that your competitors are frauds...
Since that article is from 2011, I wanted to see if there was any follow-up research on that. Using the paper's title as a starting point on Google Scholar I could only find better techniques for checking, but no papers sampling many brands. Then I noticed that the PDF was hosted on "olivecenter.ucdavis.edu". Going to that website revealed no further research either. In fact, the research tab of their menu links to example.com. Bit annoying, that.
- Projects: https://olivecenter.ucdavis.edu/research/projects
- Our Reports: https://olivecenter.ucdavis.edu/research/reports
- UC Olive Database: https://olivecenter.ucdavis.edu/research/publications
I’m surprised there aren’t appellations for Italian olive oil, if they care so much about it being domestic.
But all bottles have a label that says where the oil or olives come from, it's just that nobody takes time to read it.
And of course, people want 1L of EVOO for 8 euros, not 20, so the big distribution carries mostly those.
On a French wine label, the appellation is often the second biggest text on the label. IIRC on olive oil 'extra virgin' is the second biggest.
Maybe the appellation should assume EVOO and work from there?
It's also a huge economic incentive for the Mafia to get involved, according to the Financial Times: https://outline.com/bH8KVt. It is a huge problem, and it doesn't stop at olive oil.
EDIT: I remember reading the article you linked, it's really good! Goes into much more than just olive oil fraud.
From Olive Oil's Dark Side : "The Romans instituted elaborate mechanisms to prevent fraud. [...] These careful records were intended to prevent the siphoning off of oil en route, or the substitution of an inferior product."
The whole article is very interesting!
Around half the oil labeled as extra virgin olive oil is fake. If memory serves part of the problem is that the labeling laws in Europe are much less strict than they are in the United States. This is why you might see a tool marked "Made in Germany" that's actually made in Turkey and merely packaged in Germany. In the United States you'd see something along the lines of "Made in the US with foreign and domestic components" or "Assembled in the US".
Personally I've stuck with one or two brands of olive oil from California because it's a.) supporting my local economy and b.) a known quantity.
As in most of the cases in Italy, we can say that the approach is: "the situation is hopeless, but not serious". Apart from the joke, it is a sad period and the Xylella case is just part of a bigger whole. But let's stay focused.
Actually, the problem has a long history and Nature wrote about it several times over the last 5 years.
I'm not an expert, nor a practitioner of the field. Nevertheless, it seems a growing evidence show that the bacterium is responsible for the problem together with a state of abandon, spread over many areas of the region, uncultivated from several decades.
The local court started an investigation to understand how Xylella reached the Salento area. Due to a poor scientific approach and an uneffective communication, such investigations gave rise to very large protests among public opinion. These protests blocked de facto any political decision to stop the spreading of the bacterium: politicians are more interested in their consensus.
This lead to a paralysis status in which Xylella prospered and the infection spread over, towards southern areas of Brindisi province.
Meanwhile, the investigations did not find a clear responsible. There are two main voices in this side. The first says that Xylella infection was the result of an out of hand scientific experiment aimed at testing some plant protection products. The second says that Xylella comes from massive and uncontrolled import-export activities in a big plants trading facility. Both stories have a similar geographical origin, near the city of Gallipoli.
Scientists, acting in a public service context, charged with negligence after a natural disaster they dismissed as unlikely resulted in 300+ deaths. That isn't the same as putting scientists on trail for reporting factual but inconvenient data. All their sentences were overturned as well.
They didn't dismiss it! They only stated that imbecile Gioacchino Giuliani was talking out of nothing and people had better to ignore him.
Earthquakes cannot yet be foreseen with an adequate precision. Fullstop.
After the fact, judges were clearly overwhelmed with emotions when they forced themselves to read a mere pseudo-coincidence as an unknown genius researcher being silenced by the corrupt scientific elite. The judgement was overthrown in appeal, and the appeal outcome validated by supreme court, with the staement: il fatto non sussiste (there is no case).
Failing to heed the warnings of scientists is unfortunately not something we can stereotype on Italians alone...
Yes, they were eventually cleared. Great. Some doubts remain but it cannot be proved beyond all reasonable doubt that they were witches. Not guilty!
I'm embarrassed by the anti-science positions taken in the US but those are hardly the same magnitude
Here's some original material:
Another, equally embarassing story (a little off-topic in the context of olive oil ;) is the prosecution of Ilaria Capua (another scientist who had a bad encounter with the justice system).
The story you linked lays it all out, but it can't really be reduced to "jailing its scientists".
Smells like another internet-spread revisionist history rumor.
His Wikipedia article makes him sound like a scientist, himself:
"Wherever he studied, he concentrated on medicine, theology, logic, physics, metaphysics, and Aristotle's dialectic. He is traditionally and usually identified with the medical author Peter of Spain, an important figure in the development of logic and pharmacology."
"To secure the necessary quiet for his medical studies, he had an apartment added to the papal palace at Viterbo, to which he could retire when he wished to work undisturbed."
The Catholic Church, even in its early days, was/is loaded with scientists and scholars. The concept of the Church being anti-science is a more recent internet-fueled meme.
This is a distortion of a distortion (the original distortion popularized by Stephen Hawking was that John XXI declared laws of nature in general, not the law of gravity as such, to be heresy.)
The actual fact is that John XXI declared the teaching of a contemporary faction that the laws of nature constrained the power of God was heresy.
Not any more than any other countries. I've dealt with many people from all over Europe thanks to a particular project I was involved in, and bad behaviors were truly cross-country (misappropriation of results, pressure to change authorship, "games" to move funding to allies or away from enemies...).
EDIT: What I mean is not that everyone is bad, but that rather bad behaviors even in my country are in the median with the others.
As a disclaimer, I am a scientist that is still working in Italy.
The truth of the matter is that the scientists were aware that they were in a situation of power over people, and in order to get people to stop annoying them with questions they lied and deceived people, which caused them to die.
It's ok to be wrong. It's ok to not know everything.
It is not ok to kill people by telling them that they are safe to go back to their homes when you know you have no idea, nor data to support that statement.
None of the above is a direct attack on "science" in general, as a process, or
a concept, nor an attack on scientists in general. However, all these
sound a great deal like the claims of various anti-science conspiracy
theorists, like anti-vaxxers or HIV-denialists: scientists are in bed with big pharma, they spread HIV through infected needles, vaccines are what cause disease, etc.
"I'm not saying that this proves anything- I'm just stating the facts".
> In June, some parliamentarians formally deposited documents at the Senate, one of Italy’s two houses of parliament, which challenged the scientific evidence on which Xylella management plans have been based and called for a Senate inquiry into whether scientists have misled the public. These claims were repudiated the following month, in an independent analysis commissioned by the national science academy, the Accademia dei Lincei. The Senate has not yet acted on the call for an inquiry.
I think trusting "an independent analysis commissioned by the national science academy" compared to a political action initiated by a few politicians is not "an appeal to authority", quite the contrary. At some point we do have to trust some people who are better prepared and informed than us on a particularly given subject. Especially in the Italian political and social context, where some other scientists have been recently prosecuted for "failing" to predict earthquakes.
Also, it is Italian, only not purely so. It is often mixed in with oils from other places. The problem is when the mix-ins are from North Africa, e.g. from Morocco, which are considered of inferior quality than the South European oils. Nobody would really mind if Italian oils were mixed in with Spanish or Greek oils, which are considered superior.
Tunisian here. I'm curious: why is North African olive oil considered inferior?
Older !== better. See also: California wine.
I don't have a good source for this, but the way I always knew it is that, when it comes to olive oil, Spanish is considered best, followed by Greek, followed by Italian, then everyone else's comes next.
I am Greek, so of course I believe this is wildly inaccurate. Also, the bit about wines. Ours are obviously better.
Bottom line: probably not for any good reason.
I would argue that almost no one can tell the difference between the highest quality olive oils from the major oil producing Mediterranean countries. So way I look at it is that Mediterranean olive oil > others.
Some of it is, some of it isn't; as the article notes, while some of the fraud is lower-grade olive oil, some of it is non-olive seed oils with additives to help it pass for olive oil.
> The problem is when the mix-ins are from North Africa, e.g. from Morocco, which are considered of inferior quality
No, the problem is that the mixins are lower-grade oil (not extra-virgin). While, yes, this oil often comes from North Africa, the origin isn't really the problem, the grade is.
I'm pretty sure the provenance is a problem. I don't remember where that certitude comes from. I can try looking it up if you insist - but actually I'd rather I didn't, I'm a little on the busy side right now :0
Also the irony here is that for the "premium" Italian olive oils, especially the extra virgin, most of the olives come from Greece.
I think you misspelled “California”.
> Also the irony here is that for the "premium" Italian olive oils, especially the extra virgin, most of the olives come from Greece.
I thought Spain supplied more of the olives for Italian olive oil, and that was true across grades.
I highly suggest buying from Greece instead of California, if only as a form of financial assistance via trade. Greek products are extremely good, but difficult to get here. There's so little money in Greece that they can't afford to build up the export infrastructure they had a century ago.
This might explain why I occasionally see Greek restaurants that also sell olive oil, but no other groceries.
This does not sound like a far cry that sounds like fraud.
In Italy or Spain, you can find "non extra-virgin" olive oil sold as well, although at a lower price.
Also in the US, you can find both virgin olive oil and (no modifier) olive oil as well as extra-virgin (and while EVOO is a higher grade, its only better for a narrow range of applications.)
Reading olive-oil labels is one of my hobbies. You'd find "Imported from Italy", "Packaged in Italy", "Made in Italy", and other shenanigans to imply some relation to Italy, without the burden of actually growing and pressing olives in Italy. That's the food equivalent of "Assembled in NA" labels, which vaguely implies someone tightened 4 screws in something bought elsewhere. The art of labelling!
For instance, concentrating on making single kinds as productive as possible instead of cultivating variety is extremely dangerous, as shown by this event. The great Irish famine is maybe the most striking example. Humanity does exactly that with wheat, cows, almost everything. The very basis of most of the globe's food comes from a handful of species. In my mind, this is one of the great ticking bombs of our close future.
We have a wide range of crops and the loss of a single one is only ever a regional problem. The loss of any one crop be that something minor like strawberries or major like corn is just not that big a deal globally.
Now locally yea it can be a huge issue, but the tradeoff of lower productivity every year vs the low odds in any one year of a problem make this fairly complex balancing act.
In terms of the food supply, their are several major food crops that are important wheat, corn, rice, soy etc so the loss of a major one would be very bad, but the worldwide food surplus is so mind blowingly vast it would not nessisarily result in starvation for anyone beyond possibly the farmers directly affected in the 3rd world.
And frankly next year you can generally plant something else.
I wonder if this plague is somehow related to the fact that Puglia ecosystem has been subverted in the last 50 years by heavy pesticide usage and intensive agriculture.
Furthermore, at that time picking was a painstaking manual process but labor was cheap. So these trees were let to grow naturally, making it impossible to use mechanized picking today.
Overall it would be better to setup a replantation program to allow for modern and cost-effective management. I have little hope it will ever happen.
In the US there is a special variety of pine killed by Mountain Pine Beetles that is relatively cheap but liked by woodworkers because the fungus that kills it leaves interesting blue streaks : https://www.sustainablelumberco.com/2015/03/beetle-kill-pine...
It's basically a kind of cancer inside the tree, but it's highly prized because it looks pretty.
That's always the problem with stupid environmentalists (as opposed to smart environmentalists): they can only say no, but they never propose an alternative solutions to the actual issue.
In portuguese there are some news (ex.: http://atarde.uol.com.br/bahia/salvador/noticias/1257586-ent...) considering that it was some kind of bioterrorism.
This one hits me where it hurts though, I wouldn't get through a day without good olive oil.
Yes, that means we will reduce the supply of Olive oil. But, if they follow through with the quarantine practices, it will destroy hundreds of years of root growth, diversity, and soil health.
Why do humans think they can stop the force of nature? We only make it worse for ourselves when we attempt to "control" nature.
I was unable to find a whole lot more information on the subject at the time.
That will help ...
Is the Olive, and the Chestnut also, and other crops...
Of course few people (outside of the Mediterranean) have had good fresh olive oil and wouldn't know the difference.
No, they're not. They can be grown in a monoculture (a large area occupied by the same plant), but they're not clones like bananas.
They are, however, slow. What you plant today doesn't give you olives any time soon.
That's why news like this terrify me so much. Even deadly human diseases seem depressingly harmless by comparison, given the relative ease with which we can be replaced, relative to a very old tree. Thinking of humans as replaceable feels awful.
And then used to attack developing countries massive agricultural production.
Let's say, china and india are growing export regions.
And if American or Russian companies design a specific bacteria to target their major agricultural exports then the prices will go up due to falling supply.
So is this possible? Could this be happening somewhere in the world?