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Research  Modified product quality, molecular "pharming".
Field trials USA 36,
Canada, Argentina
Approval None
Perspective The commercial utilisation of genetically modified safflower cannot be anticipated in the short term.



The safflower, Cathamus tinctoriusis a plant that does well under warm conditions and that primarily is cultivated in subtropical regions in dry locations. Leading producers are India (224.000 tonnes 2007) and the USA (95.000 tonnes 2007) so as Kazakhstan (65.000 tonnes 2007). In Europe, safflower is cultivated in Spain, Turkey and Hungary.



The seeds of the plant contain as much as 90 per cent unsaturated fatty acids, of which approximately 78 per cent is the nutritionally valuable linolic acid. In contrast, safflower seeds contain no linolenic acid.

The safflower is cultivated today primarily for its oil and only in few cases as a dyers' plant. Various parts of the plant are processed.


  • the seeds in the manufacture of cooking oil and margarine

  • the petals as food colouring (as a substitute for saffron)


  • the blossoms and other parts as an analgesic, antibiotic and antipyretic remedy

Sustainable raw materials:

  • the oil from the seeds is used for technical applications in the manufacture of lacquers, paints and varnishes
  • the petals in the manufacture of dyes for textiles and cosmetics


Gene technology: aims of research and development

Quality traits

Enrichment with traits displaying constitutional effects, such as:

  • the formation of the omega-3 fatty acid linolenic acid. Linolenic acid is one of the triple-unsaturated fatty acids that are particularly beneficial to the coronary and circulatory systems.

Sustainable raw materials

Production of pharmaceutical compounds

  • molecular pharming: the use of genetically modified safflower as a production system for pharmaceuticals and vaccines.

Agronomic traits

Weed management


Field trials with GM safflower

USA 36
Period 2002-2010
Traits Modified product traits, molecular pharming
Other countries Canada, Argentina


An EU Research Project

What are the risks of growing GM crops?

What are the benefits?

Numerous studies have addressed the potential impacts of genetically modified (GM) plants. Yet the existing evidence on the effects of GM plants is often contradictory and the quality of scientific research varies widely.

Therefore, the GRACE project will establish new tools for assessing the quality of existing studies and will conduct comprehensive reviews to identify health, environmental and socio-economic impacts of GM plants.

More information


GMO Soybeans & Sustainability

Less soil erosion and fuel consumption: herbicide tolerant soybeans are promoting sustainable cultivation methods.


Glyphosate in European agriculture

Interview with a farmer

Glyphosate containing herbicides are not only used in fields with GM crops. They also allow conventional farmers to sow directly into stubble fields without ploughing. Glyphosate has replaced mechanical weed control in many crops and has had an important impact on agricultural practices and crop yields in Europe over the past few decades.

European Glyphosate Task Force

 GMO Database
GM Food and Feed: Authorization in the EU
GMO Database: Contains information on every GM plant that has been approved or is awaiting authorisation in the EU.
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