Silly me, I thought they did this already. Surprise! They are going to! I sure hope we get the chance to know what we are purchasing. Oranges don’t grow well in Indiana…yet…
Unknown to many, since 2005, a large portion of America’s orange supply has been under attack by a bacterium that is carried by the psyllid (a jumping plant lice) and sours oranges, leaving them half green. The disease, which has already cost Florida growers more than $4.5 billion, has been labeled citrus greening. Ricke Kress is the president of Southern Gardens citrus and in charge of two and a half million orange trees in the state of Florida.
Since the disease was discovered, Kress and one thousand other Florida growers, who supply the majority of the nation’s orange juice, have battled it with everything they have. They’ve gone as far as chopping down thousands of infected trees, spraying an array of different pesticides at triple the normal amount and even seeking out orange trees that carry a natural immunity – all to no avail.
Biotechnology to the rescue
Kress and others in the orange industry decided that the only possible answer to this outbreak lied in biotechnology. Since 2008, millions have been spent on creating a genetically engineered orange that can withstand citrus greening. The orange growing industry is well aware that the public is not going to willingly or easily accept the idea of genetically modifying one of the healthiest and most popular foods on the planet.
Kress’ boss, uneasy about ruining the healthy image of the fruit, stated in a 2008 meeting, “Do we really want to do this?”
Mr. Kress assured his boss: “The consumer will support us if it’s the only way.”
One astute grower stated, “The public will never drink GMO orange juice, it’s a waste of our money.”
Your oranges may now contain pig genes
In the past few years, genetic material from two different plants, a virus, a pig and, perhaps most frightening of all, a laboratory synthesized gene have been evaluated for use in the new transgenic GMO orange. If approved by regulatory agencies, the new GMO orange trees could be planted in as little as two years.