- AUM LifeTech has collaborated with the U.S. Department of Agriculture on a first of its kind non-GMO RNA silencing approach for bacteria, insect and pathogen control that centers on citrus trees and fruits, according to Food Ingredients 1st.
- While citrus is the most eaten fruit in the U.S., with approximately $9 billion in sales annually, the fatal bacterial disease huanglongbing — also known as citrus greening — is putting a damper on those numbers. It is responsible for nearly $15 billion worth of lost revenue through the years.
- The USDA is utilizing AUM’s next-generation gene-silencing technology to fight the plant bacteria candidatus liberibacter and other citrus pests like citrus root weevil and Asian citrus psyllid. Preliminary results have been promising.
Citrus industry insiders attest that citrus greening is the most serious problem facing the industry today. Once a tree is infected with the deadly disease, there is no cure and the fruit is worthless. Over time, citrus greening has devastated millions of acres of citrus crops in the U.S.
Earlier this year, Congress passed The Emergency Citrus Disease Response Act (H.R. 3957), designed to help growers replant citrus trees affected by greening and allowing a tax deduction to replant diseased trees, even if an investor helps cover the cost.
The USDA has put many resources towards finding other solutions, creating a “Save Our Citrus” campaign. Part of the agency’s efforts include quarantines of affected areas, inspection of host plants, removal of infected plants, confiscation of illegally shipped plants, USDA certification of citrus, and public education campaigns.
AUM’s technology has already proved to be successful in early trials, showing an increase in insect mortality and a decrease in bacteria within citrus trees. Still, more evidence needs to be processed before it’s further adapted.