“It is extremely expensive to carry this work all the way through the regulatory process,” he says.
So far, Mirkov says he hasn’t heard from any groups who typically oppose genetically modified products.
“I think when you have something so critical, we may not see big pushback in terms of public perception,” he says.
But Kress isn’t so optimistic.
“It’s going to be a definite challenge,” he says.
Southern Gardens already has started the education process, working with customers and explaining that, unlike many other genetically modified products, there may be no other alternatives to genetically modified citrus.
“A GMO orange tree might be the only solution to protecting the citrus industry,” he says.
And using genetically modified trees would result in a significant reduction in chemical and pesticide use, which is important for the environment, he adds.
At least one major orange juice manufacturer who, in the past, would not have considered using genetically modified oranges, is looking forward to disease-resistant trees, Mirkov says.
“They can’t wait for these things to get in the field,” he says, “because they know, without it, they are going to end up being out of business.”