Americans drink more than 550 million gallons of orange juice every year with more than 60 million gallons of that juice being organic, according to The Organic Center (Washington, D.C.), an independent non-profit educational and research organization operating under the administrative auspices of the Organic Trade Association (OTA).
But a devastating bacterial disease known as citrus greening is now threatening the livelihood of America’s citrus growers and the healthy diets of millions, according to The Organic Center. Citrus greening disease threatens the citrus industry on a massive scale and has devastated millions of acres of citrus crops throughout the United States and abroad, ravaging countries in Asia, Africa and South America, reports The Organic Center, adding the disease was first discovered in Florida in 2005.
In response to this threat, The Organic Center is launching a comprehensive drive to raise its target of $310,000 for a three-year study to find organic solutions to ward off citrus greening and help organic citrus growers fight the disease without resorting to chemicals or genetic engineering. A $45,000 grant from the UNFI Foundation has laid the foundation for the drive.
“Especially in this era of climate change, new pests and voracious diseases, organic agriculture deserves as much money for research as conventional agriculture. We must invest in non-toxic ecological solutions for now and for future generations,” said Melody Meyer, director of the UNFI Foundation and president of the board of directors for OTA.
The UNFI grant will be applied to the three-year research project being led by The Organic Center, in collaboration with University of Florida entomologist Michael Rogers and Ben McLean, vice president and director of research for Uncle Matt’s Organic, to find holistic organic solutions to controlling citrus greening.
For more information, visit www.organic-center.org.