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Waiter, there’s a bug in my orange juice

December 3, 2010

When former¬† beauty queen Anita Bryant chirped more than four decades ago: “A day without orange juice is like a day without sunshine,” she wasn’t talking about green oranges or genetically altered ones, but that was then.

Now, an insect-borne bacterial disease known as “greening”¬†threatens the very survival of Florida’s $9 billion citrus industry. Calvin Arnold, a scientist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, believes genetic engineering holds the only hope for a cure.

Also known as Huanglongbing (HLB), or “yellow dragon disease,” greening was identified in China more than a century ago and has no known cure. It is spread by a very small bug called a psyllid.

Tom Brown gets to the bottom of it in his special report: “A day without genetically altered orange juice“¬† You can also see the report in multimedia PDF format here.

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Total citrus acreage in Florida has been dropping since 1998, as the industry consolidated and farmers sold off land to real estate developers. But greening has been a major factor in more recent declines and a corresponding drop in production.

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