Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

FP6

CLEANFRUIT — Result In Brief

Project ID: 506495
Funded under: FP6-FOOD
Country: Slovenia

Super citrus

Insect populations can harm production of citrus fruit, pose a health risk and affect the economy. An intriguing technique in pest control has begun to improve citrus production effectively.
Super citrus
Countries in southern Europe, particularly Greece, Spain and Italy, produce excellent citrus fruits that can be exported to the rest of the world. The EU-funded project Cleanfruit aimed to upgrade the quality of these fruits through enhanced crop protection systems. It looked at how to apply the sterile insect technique (SIT) in Europe through a set of deliverables that would achieve this ambitious goal.

The technique works by releasing sterile male insects into the wild to push their fertile counterparts away and then mate with the females in order to decrease offspring significantly. Armed with this mission the project worked on optimised storage of adult insects before they are released. It also optimised egg shipping and containers to encourage decentralisation of sterile medfly male production across Europe.

Moreover, Cleanfruit launched a website on cutting-edge knowledge in the sector and published an SIT implementation manual to encourage application of the programme. It also developed a protocol on transferring emerged flies from their containers to release devices using improved chilling technology.

The project evaluated existing egg hatchability tests and proposed radical improvements to the decentralised insect mass rearing processes of the Mediterranean fruit fly. This focused on egg production, sterile male pupae production and eclosion (the emergence of an adult insect from the pupa) operations for releasing sterile adult males.

New adult male packaging technology, a novel land 'air plume' release system and improved trapping mechanisms have also contributed to this endeavour. Cleanfruit also worked on assessing risks for non-target organisms, improving male-only facilities and designing better egg production facilities.

In a significant bid to further awareness on SIT, the project conducted a dissemination strategy with 12 seminars aimed at stakeholders in the Mediterranean region. It supported this initiative with a cost-benefit model to demonstrate the advantages of SIT, as well as financial tools to assess conversion to the system.

True to its name, Cleanfruit established a new model for food safety and related standards to articulate the positive impact on human health by comparing chemical control with SIT. This was coupled with recommendations for policy improvements and an investigation of requirements needed to integrate the use of SIT within current practices. Ultimately, these comprehensive initiatives that touch on virtually all angles of the topic will bring safer and more eco-friendly fruit to the table.

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