GMO Food

GMO Virus Could Save Florida's Orange Groves

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will reportedly approve a GMO virus to fight citrus greening disease.

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CitrusGreeningUSDA
USDA

Citrus greening is "the most serious threat that the Florida citrus industry has ever faced," according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The bacterial disease, which tends to turn fruit green after ripening, is spread by the Asian citrus psyllid insect. The devastating disease has infected an estimated 80 percent of Florida's citrus trees, and it has contributed significantly to the 60 percent reduction in the state's harvest of oranges and grapefruit since its peak in the late 1990s.

Now there may a way to fight back. Southern Gardens Citrus has engineered a version of the Citrus tristeza virus to attack the bacterium that causes citrus greening. The virus has been modified to carry a defensin protein found in spinach. When citrus greening bacteria come into contact with the protein, it kills them by perforating their cell walls, causing their contents to leak out. The company inoculates against the bacteria by grafting branches containing the genetically enhanced virus onto other trees. The virus then flows into the trees' vascular system, where it encounters and kills the bacteria.

In February, Southern Gardens Citrus applied for a permit for the environmental release of the virus. The Department of Agriculture is expected to allow Florida citrus growers to start using the virus in early 2019, according to Politico.

Florida growers hope that since the genes of the trees themselves are not being changed, anti-science groups will not damn the oranges and grapefruit from inoculated trees as Frankenfruit. But the public comments posted at Department of Agriculture's website suggest the bioluddites are not about to stand down.

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  1. Florida growers hope that since the genes of the trees themselves are not being changed, anti-science groups will not damn the oranges and grapefruit from inoculated trees as Frankenfruit. But the public comments posted at Department of Agriculture’s website suggest the bioluddites are not about to stand down.

    Atheists, who fucking love science, sure hold some crazy religious beliefs.

    1. Not a chance that they’re going away. Meanwhile, another year will pass before the groves can start fighting back against citrus greening.

    2. When one’s religion is Gaia, one isn’t actually an atheist anymore.

    3. Wow SIV, you really just say words with no clue what they mean do you? What does atheism have to do w/ this, other than that you bizarrely seem to believe that atheism is somehow driving the GMO debate?

  2. Pretty major issue for Florida.

  3. Florida growers hope that since the genes of the trees themselves are not being changed, anti-science groups will not damn the oranges and grapefruit from inoculated trees as Frankenfruit.

    Not being a fruit tree expert (esp. citrus) but aren’t most or virtually all of them grafted anyway? Growing from seed is much slower and less productive to start with so it’s not exactly “won’t regard them as Frankenfruit” as much as “will regard them as the same frankenfruit that they’ve been for generations”.

    The fact that the entire process can effectively be reversed by simply picking the fruit (which you were gonna do anyway) grafting the trees (which you were gonna do anyway) and letting the trees die or cutting them down (which you were gonna do anyway) makes their argument exceedingly absurd.

    1. Yes, grafting has been used for thousands of years to modify a wide variety of crops. There is very likely no orange tree left on Earth that has not been impacted by this sort of Ye Olde “genetic modification”. Apart from that, this whole process sounds like innoculation/vaccination to me. The tree itself is not being modified. It’s being infected w a virus that provides an immune-type response to a much more dangerous virus. Of course there’s a lot of overlap between antigmo & antivax hysteria, so not sure that point is going to convince anyone of anything.

  4. Now there may a way to fight back.

    Then it’s agreed. We use our supreme military might to acquire new and fertile subtropical climates to grow our citrus fruits and finally cut Florida loose.

    1. Venezuela’s climate is good for growing oranges, and their population is too emaciated to fight back.

      1. Those Empanadas the Pres keeps eating though are filled with PCP. He can take out 100 battleships by himself at this point.

  5. Do limes get citrus greening disease?

    1. Excellent question, the lime stays the same color, but you’re no longer able to put it in the coconut.

      1. Well that just dranks me bot up.

  6. GMO Virus Could Save Florida…

    Progs were right. The free market must be contained for our own safety.

  7. Duke brothers, call your office.

  8. While I’m not against the concept of GMO food, I don’t like how many people seem to come to the conclusion “All GMO processes must be good/safe, because some definitely are.”

    The fact is that that statement is just as silly as “All chemicals must be good/safe, because some definitely are.” Which is obviously false. There are good chemicals and bad as far as human health or environmental damage, GMO is the same in theory. This sounds like a fairly benign thing, but some of the others that have been modified to actually produce their own pesticides… It’s not that it’ll kill you right away or anything, but neither will a small dose of most other toxic chemicals.

    In my personal life I try to limit exposure to things that are known to be harmful. If you chugged a cup of most pesticides it would kill you, so I small doses are not doing you any favors even if they don’t cause immediate or massive harm. So I usually buy organic. It’s not that eating a single strawberry with pesticide residue will kill you, it surely won’t, but it is removing a very small amount of strain that your body is having to deal with. Rinse and repeat 3 times a day over decades and perhaps it ups your chances of some kind of cancer 3%, or messes with your stomach bacteria, or whatever. Not a HUGE deal, but since I can afford to avoid it I do.

    1. Anyway, most GMO stuff doesn’t bother me much, and I sure as hell don’t eat 100% organic hippie food, but I think intelligent people should be looking at these things case by case, just as one would with a new chemical. None of the GMO stuff thus far as been TOO crazy, but that’s not any guarantee that future products won’t be. There is a grey area between being a stupid all GMOs are bad hippie and an arrogant all GMOs are great futurist. I’m in between and go case by case, as any sane person should.

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