We start thinking about fresh fruits and vegetables this time of year and what we can grow in our garden. But we also think about the fresh fruits we ate over the winter and even though we can’t grow them here citrus is one of the fruits we love to eat.
I’m not sure if you’re aware that there has been a major pest problem with growing citrus. This is a disease that is vectored by a tiny insect no larger than a head of a pin. This disease is called citrus greening. It causes the fruit to be hard and green and very tasteless or very bitter to the taste. This disease is having major economic impacts on the citrus industries of the U.S. This disease is native to Asia and was brought over accidentally.
One of the things they have been working on besides other kinds of pest management tools is developing varieties of citrus that are resistant to this citrus greening disease. There is a lot of controversy over this because of its genetically modified background.
Scientists are trying to learn whether this technology of using genetically modified citrus will be accepted by U.S. consumers. About 50 percent of consumers surveyed had positive attitudes toward genetically modified science while the other half had mixed either against or were neutral. What they are looking to do is to try to introduce some genetically modified citrus into the U.S. market to see how it is accepted.
We want to continue to enjoy our fresh citrus fruits over the winter but we also want to have fruit that tastes good and the farmers can make money to grow. Stay tuned to learn more about the effects of citrus greening on the U.S. citrus industry but think about that when you take your next bite of a fresh orange or grapefruit.