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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Overview of Science/legal Conflicts Raised by Citrus Canker Research and Eradication


Submitted to: American Phytopathological Society Annual Meeting
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: June 1, 2003
Publication Date: July 1, 2003
Citation: Gottwald, T. R. 2003. Overview of Science/Legal Conflicts Raised by Citrus Canker Research and Eradication. American Phytopathological Society Annual Meeting.

Technical Abstract: Citrus canker, is caused by <i>Xanthomonas axonopodis</i> pv <i>citri</i> (Xac), an exotic bacterial pathogen that affects commercial and residential citrus. Xac can cause crop loss but also triggers quarantine of infested areas disrupting national and international trade and eradication programs that have far-reaching political and socioeconomic impact. The only known eradication method is removal of diseased and nearby asymptomatic trees suspected to have sub-clinical infections. Canker eradication policy decisions are based on scientific studies of disease spread. Study results, conclusions, and pathogen biology are challenged by non scientists who disagree with eradication policy. This has elicited conflict among regulatory agencies, commercial citrus growers, and homeowners resulting in escalading legal proceedings. Some issues of concern are: scientific ethics versus adversarial testimony in court by paid experts, the inaccurate portrayal of science and scientists in the press and by adversarial lawyers, public mistrust of scientific results, publication policy, challenges to anonymous peer review, and the freedom of information act (FOIA) versus intellectual property rights.

Last Modified: 4/22/2015
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