Moving the goalposts

We’ve mostly (though not entirely) steered clear of the Xylella crisis in Italy, because it all seems to futile. I was in Puglia earlier this summer and it was heartbreaking to see entire olive groves dead and dying, and for what? Because of fear and mistrust all around, and an absolute absence of any kind of societal solidarity. So the recent news that the infected zone continues to march steadily up Italy’s heel was in many respects inevitable.

The disease is now threatening plant nurseries, which may be even more important economically than those majestic old olive trees, because they supply huge amounts of grapevines for export. And what do the nurseries say? That “a lack of effective action on the part of regional authorities is responsible for the spread of Xylella, which is now unfairly forcing a crucial economic sector to shut down or move”. On the one hand, they’re absolutely right. On the other, they think that plant nurseries should be exempt from the controls because “no Xyella-infected plants have ever been identified in plant nurseries”.

To which, pessimist that I am, I would add only “Yet”.

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