Disease devastating citrus industry makes its way to California

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Workers destroy citrus fruit considered contaminated by the citrus canker virus October 10, 2000 in Miami, Florida.

A Texas scientist hopes to use proteins found in spinach to fight the disease that is currently ravaging the citrus industry.

On Friday, state officials announced the disease had for the first time been found in a California citrus tree.

But Erik Mirkov, a Texas A&M plant pathologist, says tests have shown orange and grapefruit trees that include the two bacteria-fighting proteins can withstand the disease, known as citrus greening.

The disease is devastating the citrus industry, especially in Florida, where an estimated 43 percent of citrus trees are infected.

Next month, dozens of trees developed by Mirkov will be planted in Florida to see how they fare in a commercial citrus grove.

It could take three or four years to prove the modified trees are safe for humans and the environment.

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