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.


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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