HLB and Genetic Engineering: The FDOC’s Role

Ernie NeffCitrus Greening, Genetic Engineering

HLB, genetic engineering

Shannon Shepp

Communicating about genetic engineering as a partial solution to greening disease (HLB) was the topic of a recent OJ break in Sebring. Florida Department of Citrus (FDOC) Executive Director Shannon Shepp participated in the meeting and discusses the FDOC’s role in telling consumers about greening.

“We’re very clear on the fact that biotechnology research is happening … We know that could be a solution to HLB down the road and we’re preparing for the conversation with consumers,” Shepp says. “We know that it’s (a genetic solution) several years away.” She says FDOC research indicates that “we need to connect consumers with growers” so consumers will trust the citrus industry.

Shepp says even though HLB has been impacting Florida citrus for more than 10 years, “It’s not something consumers have really paid attention to. It hasn’t impacted their lives. So when we start talking about solutions to greening that may impact their lives … they have to know the story of greening first … They have to have a trust and faith in us that we haven’t been keeping something from them for the last 10 years. So we’re working on that immediately.”

She tells how the FDOC is providing consumers with information about greening via the department’s website and other means.

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About the Author

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large