Tomato crops in the south-eastern part of Sicily (from Pachino to Licata) have, for months, been stricken by the Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Virus (TYLCV), a highly aggressive virus which has led to the grubbing up of over 70% of the tomatoes that were due to be harvested between November and December.
In addition to the TYLCV, which is also known as New Delhi, a new virus has been identified which attacks, in particular, vegetable crops in open fields, such as tomatoes and courgettes, and has been found in the province of Ragusa, Sicily, by the Department of Agrarian and Forestry Science of the University of Palermo, in collaboration with some private laboratories. It is a virus with symptoms that are similar to those of New Delhi, (leaf curl), but is perhaps more aggressive, and it is still not clear how it is transmitted.
— In view of the growing number of cases of new, increasingly virulent, viruses that are attacking crops, in particular in southern Europe, should the Commission not launch an applied research programme and a system to prevent new viruses from spreading? — Given that the regions of southern Europe have proven to be more vulnerable and exposed to the spread of plant viruses, should the Commission not, in addition, introduce specific measures, including compensatory ones, for the regions that have been the most adversely affected by these viruses?
Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Virus (TYLCV) is a harmful organism included in the annexes of the Council Directive 2000/29/EC(1) that specifies protective measures against its introduction and spread in the EU. The virus is present in a number of Member States, and the provisions are connected with its major host namely tomato plants. As it is transmitted by Bemisia tabacii, the requirements expand to include specific provisions on the insect vector.
Tomato leaf curl New Delhi virus (ToLCND), a virus that has been recently found in the EU, is not specifically mentioned in the annexes, but is one of the viruses transmitted by Bemisia tabacii for which provisions are in place.
The existing requirements for Bemisia tabacii and the viruses spread are currently under revision, following a pest risk assessment of the European Food and Safety Authority.
As regards financing, ToLCND is included in the EU co-financed work programme for pest surveys by Member States and co-funding might be granted for ad hoc eradication measures taken by Member States against ToLCND or TYLCV(2). Furthermore, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development(3) offers the possibility to Members States/Regions to include in their Rural Development Programmes, risk management instruments to mitigate the negative effects of the disease as well as support for prevention actions.
The Commission supports research on emerging pests and diseases in plants under Horizon 2020 Societal Challenge 2(4) focusing on understanding the underlying drivers, management, prevention, detection and diagnosis of pests/diseases and contributing to the implementation of EU plant health policies.
(1) OJ L 169, 10.7.2000, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 189, 27.06.2014, p. 1.
(3) Regulation (EU) No 1305/2013.
(4) SFS-10-2017 of Horizon 2020 Societal Challenge 2 Work Programme 2016-2017.