Citrus growers in the country, especially those in Florida, have been under siege from a disease known as Huanglongbing (HLB) or perhaps better known as citrus greening. During the recent Ag Issues Forum, Chuck caught up with Bayer CropScience‘s Rob Schrick, who said while his company is able to provide some chemicals to fight the disease, they want to offer growers a more sustainable solution.
“We need these growers to be in it for the long term, so we need to be able to look beyond that [chemical solution],” he said, adding there are promising treatments out there, some of them in the GMO realm, which creates its own issues with how quickly a company can respond with a solution, trying to clear the regulatory hurdles, as well as consumer confidence hurdles to prove the technology. But Bayer wants to find a real solution for the long haul. “There’s no silver bullet, so we’re investing into enhanced research and partnering with universities and grower groups to combine our efforts.”
Rob pointed out that they are racing the clock to find a solution. In the more accepted GMO realm of crops, such as corn and soybeans, it takes 10-12 years to get a new strain through the regulatory process. For direct consumable crops, that timeframe could be extended substantially. He hopes that working with the government and universities will get them to take a new look at this to provide a solution that has that citrus tree applying its own natural defenses without the introduction of more chemicals before it’s too late.
“We need to keep these growers viable and keep these orchards in production for the long term and let these growers get back to doing what they do best: grow oranges.”
Listen to Chuck’s interview with Rob here: Interview with Rob Schrick, Bayer CropScience