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Modifying Orange DNA To Prevent Their Demise

Did you know that over the past few years while you were sleeping, a new virus strain was slowly ravaging the world’s supply of oranges? Yeah, neither did we.

It’s affecting farmer’s crops globally, and in the United States, the state of Florida (one of the world’s largest producers of orange juice) has been hit pretty hard. The disease essentially sours an orange and leaves it half-green, and totally inedible. Back in 2005, the disease finally reached “the sunshine state”, forcing orange growers to come up with a plan.

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Image source: www.casavella.co.uk

Together, a community of roughly 8,000 farmers searched high and low for solutions. They sought out orange trees with immunities to the virus, sprayed pesticides, chopped down thousands of infected trees, and tried to wait it out. Unfortunately, the problem persisted, and such an immunity to the disease could not be found. Naturally, the farmers turned to science for the answer, and they think they’ve found it.

By genetically modifying orange DNA from another species, they can create a resistance to the disease.

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Image source: www.herindera.com

Of course, this bears many potential risks, including a rejection from consumers who might not be open to the idea of eating modified food. With distrust, second-thoughts, and cynicism running rampant, it’ll be a miracle if this project actually finds success. Unfortunately, the alternative consequences may be enough to force the issue.

Still, many farmers are afraid that by modifying orange DNA, the image of creating “100% all-natural juice” may be sullied, and could do more damage to the industry than other methods of preventative growing. They argue that researchers should look into more natural immunities, but with the clock ticking, their voices are the minority in the issue.

It’s a debate that will continue up until they’ve no choice but to make a decision. To learn more about the issue, head over to the New York Times and read their write-up.

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