20 Aug 2021

Drosophila suzukii: Italian ministry authorizes Ganaspis brasiliensis launches

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The Ministry for Ecological Transition has now authorised the release of Ganaspis brasiliensis, the parasitoid imported last year from Switzerland which is able to combat Drosophila suzukii, the Asian midge of berries which is causing considerable damage to crops in Trentino too.

The news was also greeted with great satisfaction at the Mach Foundation, where researchers and technicians have been working for months in quarantine chambers to breed and multiply the Far Eastern micro-monoptera, a wasp that is harmless to humans.

The official go-ahead arrived yesterday at the Agricultural Service of the Autonomous Province of Trento, which together with the FEM represents Trentino in the national Drosophila suzukii round table coordinated by CREA-DC. But there are other regions that have obtained authorisation alongside the Autonomous Provinces of Trento and Bolzano: Veneto, Val d'Aosta, Piedmont, Emilia Romagna, Campania, Sicily and Puglia.

A long and complex process before the official go-ahead for releases

A specific authorisation from the Ministry of Ecological Transition was required to carry out releases of G. brasiliensis on the territory, which was called upon to assess the analysis of direct and indirect risks associated with the release of the CBA (biological control agent) on biodiversity.

The Edmund Mach Foundation had therefore prepared a detailed risk assessment document: a 120-page dossier describing the biological and ecological characteristics of the species G. brasiliensis and the possible impacts on the ecosystem. The seven regions and two autonomous provinces of Trento and Bolzano participating in the national group for the release of the antagonist signed and sent the application for release to MITE on 7 May, together with the risk study. The process involved going through the Istituto Superiore per la Protezione e la Ricerca Ambientale (ISPRA), the regional and provincial environmental protection agencies (ARPA and APPA) and finally the Ministries of the Environment and Agriculture.

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Campus breeding, launch programme and pre- and post-release monitoring

To date, G. brasiliensis breeding farms at the FEM count thousands of specimens with a monthly production of over 7000 individuals. Twelve sites have been identified for this year's releases, corresponding to the areas with the greatest vocation for cerasiculture and berries that is: Valsugana (5 sites), Val d'Adige (4 sites), Vallagarina (1 site), Valle dei Mocheni (1 site), Altopiano di Pinè (1 site).
Following the release of the parasitoid, a multi-annual monitoring programme is envisaged to safely assess its possible impacts on local ecosystems and its effectiveness against Drosophila suzukii. The results of the monitoring plan and a detailed report will be submitted to the Ministry by December 2021.

Source: Mach Foundation

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