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Rationale For Reconsidering Current Regulations Restricting Use Of Hybrids In Orange Juice

Ed Stover, Frederick G. Gmitter, Jude Grosser, Elizabeth Baldwin, Guohong Albert Wu, Jinhe Bai, Yu Wang, Peter Chaires, Juan Carlos Motamayor

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AbstractHuanglongbing (HLB) is a disease that has devastated the Florida citrus industry, threatens the entire U.S. citrus industry, and globally is rapidly spreading. Florida’s citrus production is 90% sweet orange, which is quite sensitive to HLB. The heavy reliance on sweet orange for Florida citrus production makes the industry especially vulnerable to diseases that are damaging to this type of citrus. Furthermore, 90% of Florida oranges are used in producing orange juice that is defined by a federal regulation known as the “orange juice standard”, specifying that at least 90% of “orange juice” must be derived from Citrus sinensis. Genomic analyses definitively reveal that sweet orange is not a true species, but just one of many introgression hybrids of C. reticulata and C. maxima, with phenotypic diversity resulting from accumulated mutations in this single hybrid, the “sweet orange”. No other fruit industry is limited by law to such a narrow genetic base. Fortunately, there are new citrus hybrids displaying reduced sensitivity to HLB, and in some cases they produce juice, alone or in blends, that consumers would recognize as “orange juice”. Reconsidering current regulations on orange juice standards may permit use of such hybrids in “orange juice”, providing greater latitude for commercialization of these hybrids, leading to higher-quality orange juice and a more sustainable Florida orange juice industry.