A disease known as citrus greening has devastated the orange crop in Florida. Thousands of trees with the disease have been cut down and pesticides have been sprayed to kill the bug that carries the disease. “But the contagion could not be contained,” writes New York Times reporter Amy Harmon.
“Oranges are not the only crop that might benefit from genetically engineered resistance to diseases for which standard treatments have proven elusive,” adds Harmon.
And advocates of the technology say it could also help provide food for a fast-growing population on a warming planet by endowing crops with more nutrients, or the ability to thrive in drought, or to resist pests. Leading scientific organizations have concluded that shuttling DNA between species carries no intrinsic risk to human health or the environment, and that such alterations can be reliably tested.
But the idea of eating plants and animals whose DNA has been manipulated in a laboratory — called genetically modified organisms, or G.M.O.’s — still spooks many people. Critics worry that such crops carry risks not yet detected, and distrust the big agrochemical companies that have produced the few in wide use. And hostility toward the technology, long ingrained in Europe, has deepened recently among Americans as organic food advocates, environmentalists and others have made opposition to it a pillar of a growing movement for healthier and ethical food choices.
Ricke Kress, president of Southern Gardens Citrus, insists that “the consumer will support us if it’s the only way.”
Today’s Question: Would you drink a glass of juice made from genetically modified oranges?