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USDA seeks public comment on citrus greening bio-control agentMonday the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced an important next step in the quest to stop citrus greening. The key to thwarting the disease’s march could lie in spinach proteins that scientists at Southern Gardens Citrus, a subsidiary of Clewiston-based U.S. Sugar, have been working with under strict research regulations for years.
The agency’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service said that in response to Southern Gardens’ permit application, it intends to prepare a draft Environmental Impact Statement. The EIS will evaluate what the impact might be from the potential approval of the permit application for the release of a genetically engineered citrus tristeza virus that’s been bolstered with proteins from spinach the fight the bacterium.
Tim Eyrich, Southern Gardens’ vice president of research and commercialization, said Tuesday he doesn’t view the fortified virus as a silver bullet, but rather as a tool that once it is fully developed, growers can use to manage greening.
However, the USDA said that the release of the GE CTV does not involve genetically engineering citrus trees, and that using the CTV will have no impact on the genetics of the trees. The trees themselves are not changed.
The EIS will examine the broad and cumulative environmental impacts of the requested permit. The public is invited to comment during the next 30 days. No date has been given for the release of the draft EIS, but the public will have another 30 days to comment following that before a final EIS is released.
Publication date: 4/12/2017
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