The growing of citrus fruits is pertinent for obtaining one of the most luscious fruits in the world. Citrus, which originated from south East Asia, has edible juicy fruit and fragrant flowers. In the United States, citrus is produced in California, Texas, Arizona and Florida. Florida is the biggest producer of citrus fruits in America accounting up to 70% of the total U.S production (Halbert, Susan & Manjunath, 2004). Citrus greening disease reduces yields. Scientists recommend a genetically modified citrus fruit as an option to overcome the disease. The debate on growing of genetically modified citrus plant is becoming a controversial (FDA, 2014). Certainly, it is pertinent to understand the activities of citrus production.
Naturally, to ensure the best possible crop, growers want to ensure that all the trees to be planted are of the same quality. To achieve this, each new tree for planting is propagated by budding or grafting. For the soil conditions, all that a grower needs to have is a well-drained soil, sandy or loamy (Alva, 1992). For sandy, soils, regular watering is essential the same way production will not be possible without fertilization. Before one can have a citrus fruit on the hand, a series of management practices such as pruning, frost control, weeding, disease control must be effected. Some of the challenges such as citrus greening are not easy to manage.
In fact, citrus greening is one of the dangerous citrus diseases in the world. The disease was first confirmed in 2005 in Florida. In essence, greening is a bacterial disease, which can kill trees, reduce production and economic value of the fruit because it attacks the vascular system of the citrus trees. Vectored by the Asian citrus psychalid, the disease has no cure once it infects a tree. The greening disease is also spread through infected materials or fruits from other areas where the disease is common. According to USDA, in the year 2013, the greening disease cost Florida’s economy 8000 jobs and $4.5 billion (NGN, 2014).obviously, this has a huge impact on the economy.
Management options available for greening include removal of symptomatic trees and planting of disease-free materials. In addition, this disease can be avoided through use of cultural approaches such as the use of resistant varieties. Similarly, control of the disease is possible by reduction of psyllid populations through chemical or biological control.
While there is freedom of expression, it is important to limit facts to science and opinion to politics. Fears that are expressed on the effects of genetic foods on human health are unfounded to the best level of scientific proof. Essentially, there is no proven fact that genetically modified foods cause adverse effects to human health. Undoubtedly, the fears are unfounded and best perpetuated by those who want to create adversity out the needed diversity.
Of course, the debate on transgenic crops includes environmental concerns. Some people express reservations on genetic modification of crops because there fears of hazardous effects to the environment. Fears that genetically modified crops will transfer the genes to other unintended plants or lead to increased resistance of pests to pesticides are common (FDA, 2014). However, there is no logical evidence to substantiate the aforementioned claims. All may be as well missing the point.
Economically, concerns about transgenic crops border on their affordability, thus availability to the poor. Owing to the fact that production of transgenic crops is an expensive process, it is feared that prices will close out the poor from accessing them. Worse still, patenting of transgenic crops varieties allows for increasing prices. As such, there are concerns that the use of transgenic crops will increase the gap between the poor and the rich.
In the United States, transgenic crops are common, and most people have no reservations with their safety. However, the story is different in other countries. For example, in most of the African countries, transgenic crops are banned. Of course, politics plays a greater role in such countries than science does. Some of the bans are termed temporary because they are subject to change after nothing negative becomes evident in countries where the transgenic crops are reliable foods.
In my opinion, genetic modification is necessary to enable plants survive from diseases. The technology is advantageous in exploiting desired traits and transferring them to other organisms for improved performance. However, these benefits should not be overemphasized at the expense of the disadvantages. In fact, the adverse effects may be even worse, although there has been limited evidence. Essentially, a lot of professionalism and research are required in the use of this technology because it is too early to overlook the negative impacts.
According to Entine (2014), the use of genetically modified citrus plants is safe for everybody except the psyllid bacteria. However, it is also important to analyze the negative effects of genetic modification. The measurement of whether the merits of the technology outweigh the demerits should be based on practical and proven scientific tests. So far, most of the reservations against the use of genetic modification have no scientific proof. On the other hand, the advantages of this technology are valid under scientific testing and they outweigh the disadvantages. Since science has not exhaustively revealed the benefits and weaknesses of this technology, it is important that maximum care be exercised in the extent to which this technology is applied.
Alva, A. K. (2011). Micronutrients status of Florida soils under citrus production. Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis. doi:10.1080/00103629209368752
Byrne, P., Ward, S., Harrington, J, Fuller, L. 2004. What are transgenic plants? http://cls.casa.colostate.edu/TransgenicCrops/what.html
Entine, Jon. 2014. The Debate About GMO Safety Is Over, Thanks To A NewTrillion-Meal Study.
FDA. 2014. Questions & Answers on Food from Genetically Engineered Plants.
Halbert, S. E., & Manjunath, K. L. (2010). ASIAN CITRUS PSYLLIDS (STERNORRHYNCHA: PSYLLIDAE) AND GREENING DISEASE OF CITRUS: A LITERATURE REVIEW AND ASSESSMENT OF RISK IN FLORIDA. Florida Entomologist. doi:10.1653/0015-4040(2004)087[0330:ACPSPA]2.0.CO;2
National Geographic News. 2014. Can Genetic Engineering Save the Florida Orange?