Florida, second only to the entire country of Brazil in global orange juice production and which accounts for over 90 percent of orange juice consumed in the United States, has lost billions of dollars in revenues from a disease that is killing orange trees faster than they can be replaced.

Citrus greening has cost Florida's economy an estimated $4.5 billion in lost revenues since 2006, according to the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences. In an already terrible economy, having a state industry that employs 76,000 full- and part-time workers at further risk is a very bad thing.

The Asian Citrus Psyllid bacterium is behind 'citrus greening' and Florida citrus researchers believe they can solve the problem.They are conducting a large-scale test of new disease-tolerant orange tree rootstock.

My old home town of Vero Beach has this malformed star ruby grapefruit affected by the insect-borne  bacterial disease 'greening'. Credit and link: Reuters

Obviously part of the problem is that the legacy way of optimizing genetics, picking a few varietals that happen to do best in the region, led to a lot less genetic diversity. Science can fix that in lots of ways, though for many activists science began in 1995 and they protest any solution more recent than that. 

The new cultivar can be made using grafting, so FrankenOrange claims will make even less sense. But look for Union of Concerned Scientists, who just decried a World Food Prize award for a scientist solely on the ground that Monsanto employs scientists, to balk at this new bit of science, along with the rest of the anti-science hippie community, who claim they only seek to scare people about biology because they love it.

Florida counts on experimental trees to fight orange plague By Barbara Liston, Reuters