A picture shows bottles of olive oil and toasted bread with olive oil at the Buonamici Farm nestles in the hills of Fiesole, just outside Florence, Tuscany, on December 2, 2014. AFP PHOTO / TIZIANA FABI
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New research from Harvard University suggests it could put years on your life.In Spain, which last year accounted for half the world's production of all grades of olive oil, a toxic cocktail of scorching temperatures, drought and bacteria is expected to halve output this year.A different bacteria threatens to decimate olive groves in southern Italy.Instead, thanks to the olive fly, the sophisticated presses and extraction machines lie dormant for lack of the organically-cultivated fruit that would normally keep them busy until nearly Christmas.Figures from the International Olive Council suggest wholesale prices of Italian oil have risen 37 percent from 2013, but Buonamici warns the rise for top quality oils like his will be steeper.With four hectares under production and some 1,700 trees, it can, in a good year, produce 10,000 50cl bottles of extra-virgin oil for sale at eight euros ($10) a pop.Olive flies are highly sensitive to climate.A fly-bitten olive is also more likely to drop from the tree earlier and, even when usable, will produce oil with elevated acidity levels and a reduced shelf-life.
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