WASHINGTON, May 12, 2015--The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved Southern Gardens Citrus to move forward with its development of a spinach protein for genetically modified oranges that could help control citrus greening disease plaguing the orange industry.

EPA approved the company’s application for an Experimental Use Permit on April 30 under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act.

Southern Gardens may now move forward with field tests to evaluate the efficacy of the spinach protein against citrus greening in citrus plant tissues and continue generating the environmental, health and safety data required under federal law to support a fully registered product for commercial use.

Southern Gardens Citrus is one of the largest citrus producers in Florida, with groves that cover more than 16,500 acres of groves comprising 1.8 million orange trees.

Research conducted by Dr. Erik Mirkov, a plant pathologist at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Weslaco, resulted in the production of the proteins that appear to resist citrus greening disease.


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