News Release
California Department of Food and Agriculture
Media Contact:
Steve Lyle, Office of Public Affairs, (916) 654-0462,
Release #01-107
Secretary speaks at research symposium in San Diego
SACRAMENTO-California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary William (Bill) J. Lyons, Jr. praised the efforts of research scientists from across the country today during a speech at the Pierce’s Disease Research Symposium in San Diego.

“While the Pierce’s disease program is still very new, it’s clear that we have a lot to be proud of already,” said Secretary Lyons. “But we still have our work cut out for us. I urge you to continue your vigilance. We must strive to cure the disease. Clearly, research is the answer.”

Pierce’s disease is caused by a bacterium called Xyella fastidiosa, which kills vines and other plants by clogging the water-conducting tissues that carry nutrients throughout a plant. Bacteria are spread with dangerous efficiency by the glassy-winged sharpshooter, an exotic pest that surfaced in California only recently.

Thus far, CDFA, the USDA and other private and public entities have funded a number of research projects, including the screening of pesticides and alternative treatments, basic analysis of the bacteria and insect, genome sequencing and evaluation of plants’ natural resistance to the bacteria.

“We’ve got our best scientific minds working to solve the problem of Pierce’s disease,” said Secretary Lyons. “The University of California has been especially responsive to the call for help, and I want to thank them for their endeavors. We couldn’t have a better university system on our side.”

Governor Davis has taken a number of steps to combat this threat to California agriculture. Over the past two years, the governor has signed legislation providing state funds to boost research and eradication efforts. To date, a total of more than $40 million in state and federal funds has been allocated to fight Pierce’s disease and the glassy-winged sharpshooter.

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California Department of Food and Agriculture Office of Public Affairs
1220 N St., Ste. 214, Sacramento, CA 95814