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Council warns public fear is causing ‘witch hunt’ in Italy

Misinformation and fear of science are leading to increased attempts to criminalise scientific research in Italy, the country’s National Research Council has said.

The CNR statement, published on 3 June, was in defence of a group of plant scientists that are being investigated in relation to the spread of a bacterial epidemic that is killing olive trees. Local campaigners have blamed researchers working on the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa for an ongoing outbreak in southern Italy.

As reported by Nature on 3 June, the accusations have led police to question several researchers and confiscate computers and documents from various institutes in the Puglia region, including the University of Bari, the Centre for Agricultural Research Basile Caramia, and the CNR’s Institute for Sustainable Plant Protection.

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