Excellent New York Times Article on Effort to Find Transgenic Solution to “Save the Orange”

The New York Times has a nice article called A Race to Save the Orange by Altering its DNA.  It chronicles the problem faced by Ricke Kress, the president of Southern Garden Citrus, to combat the disease called “citrus greening” caused by the bacteria known as  C. liberibacter asiaticus.  Mr. Kress embarked on an effort to find a solutions based on genetic engineering, believing it was the only prudent way to combat the scourge.

An emerging scientific consensus held that genetic engineering would be required to defeat citrus greening.  “People are either going to drink transgenic orange juice or they’re going to drink apple juice,” one University of Florida scientist told Mr. Kress.

This potential solution, however, brought with it another problem:

But the idea of eating plants and animals whose DNA has been manipulated in a laboratory — called genetically modified organisms, or G.M.O.’s — still spooks many people.  Critics worry that such crops carry risks not yet detected, and distrust the big agrochemical companies that have produced the few in wide use.  And hostility toward the technology, long ingrained in Europe, has deepened recently among Americans as organic food advocates, environmentalists and others have made opposition to it a pillar of a growing movement for healthier and ethical food choices.

It is Mr. Kress’ belief, however, that these broad concerns unfairly malign transgenic solutions that can decrease the use of chemicals and pesticides and are necessary to protect against devastating bacteria.  Moreover:

[Mr. Kress] did not aim to hide anything from consumers, but he would want them to understand how and why his oranges were genetically engineered.  What bothered him was that a label seemed to lump all G.M.O.’s into one stigmatized category.

Please see the entire article here.

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