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CRDF is committed to genetic modification of citrus; Dantzler keeps deferring to Bayer

Genetic modification of citrus appears to be the top priority for Rick Dantzler and Florida’s Citrus Research and Development Foundation (CRDF), according to the discussion at today’s CRDF board meeting.

Foundation COO Rick Dantzler says he’s committed to keeping the Monsanto-Bayer project alive, even though the multibillion-dollar German multinational said it would quit its relationship with CRDF unless the foundation coughed up more money.

Dantzler admitted that his Bayer solution would take ‘many, many years’ to get to market

Dantzler’s Monsanto-Bayer project is an expensive and time-consuming initiative that’s based on genetically modifying citrus trees to fight HLB/citrus greening – something that Dantzler said in December would take “many, many years” to get to market and cost a quarter-billion dollars.

But he still wants to do it.

That would effectively mean sitting by and watching while Florida citrus growing goes extinct as HLB/citrus greening devours the state’s groves.

Dantzler made it apparent that he is more interested in the multibillion-dollar juice-processing industry and not the growers or the fresh-fruit side of the business.

He said that CRDF has gotten a commitment from big processors for another few months and hopes to get a $15 million grant from the federal government to keep funding Monsanto-Bayer’s GMO work.

Bayer, the which bought Monsanto, says that fighting HLB/citrus greening isn’t profitable because citrus is such a relatively small industry, but turning citrus into GMOs would be a valuable enterprise for itself.

Recognizes that transparency has been an issue, but offers to connect small companies with Bayer

Dantzler and others say they recognize that CRDF hasn’t been very transparent or communicative about funding research for smaller companies with different solutions, and that they’ll work to overcome that. (For CRDF to take 10 years to come to this conclusion is an indictment of the foundation’s leadership.)

In a confused verbal statement during the conference-call board meeting, Dantzler said that he recognizes that smaller businesses think that CRDF “is not open to all comers.” That isn’t true, he said; “I want to send the message out that … we certainly are” open to all.

If smaller companies have a pesticide component to their solutions, Dantzler offered some cheerful help. “We will offer to connect them with Bayer,” he said.