Bellucci Premium, Producer of Italian Olive Oil, Comments on the Potential Release of Genetically Altered Olive Flies in Spain

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Following an article by The Olive Oil Times that explains how a genetically altered olive fly can help reduce the use of pesticides on products, Bellucci Premium makes a statement.

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Olive oil producer Bellucci Premium responds to an article that details how genetically altered olive flies may be released in a Catalan olive grove to help reduce the olive fly population.

According to an August 27th article by The Olive Oil Times titled “Spain Considers Trial Release of Genetically-Modified Olive Flies,” Oxitec, a British biotech company, has proposed a trial of their genetically altered olive flies to be released in Spain. The proposal is still pending. According to the article, it would be the first genetically modified animal released in the European Union if approved.

The olive fly is often managed by using pesticides in olive groves. Oxitec’s genetically altered fly would offer a solution that bypasses the use of pesticides, according to the article. The proposed test would include releasing genetically altered male olive flies into the wild. The article states that “on mating with wild females, any resulting female offspring would fail to develop beyond the late larval stages.”

The article says that Oxitec does not foresee any issues with releasing the flies into the wild. “In the event that the OX3097D‐Bol olive fly is eaten by predators present at the release site the inserted genetic traits are not anticipated to have any toxic effect,” says Oxitec in a document sent to the European Commission.

While Oxitec has no reservations about the release of the flies, Testbiotech, a public interest scientific group, believes that the flies could cause an issue. Christoph Then, the spokesman for Testbiotech, was quoted in the article as saying, “If the genetically engineered flies escape, the harvest in the regions concerned would become non-marketable. Genetically engineered larvae living inside the olives are not allowed for food consumption in the E.U.”

Natalie Sexenian, marketing manager for Italian olive oil producer Bellucci Premium, comments on the proposal. “While it is great to see a push towards a greener alternative for removing pests, this genetically modified fly could ultimately cause issues,” she says. “An alternative to using pesticides on crops would lead to a greener future, so I am interested to see where this leads.”

Bellucci offers three different types of oil, including an organic option, with a mild peppery flavor and fruity undertones that will satisfy any palate. Bellucci Premium Toscano extra virgin olive oil uses olives that are grown on the beautiful landscapes of Tuscany, and maintained by 3rd and 4th generation farmers. The third type of oil Bellucci produces is the finest 100% Italian extra virgin olive oil, grown in many different regions of Italy.

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Scott Darrohn

Scott Darrohn
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