GMO COMPASS - Information on genetically modified organisms
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Coconut

 

 

 
Research Insect resistance, modified product characteristics
Field trials None
Approval None
Perspectives No commercial utilisation of GM-coconut palms is expected for a long while.

 

Cultivation

Coconut palms are grown worldwide in the tropics. Of the 55 million tons of coconuts produced in 2005, 73% came from the Philippines, Indonesia and India. Other producing countries include Sri Lanka, Thailand and Brazil.

 

Utilisation

Coconuts are harvested while still green and unripe. The brown inner stone of the coconut fruit, which is sold in the shops as coconut, are covered by a husk of fibres and a hard, green outer skin. The inner stone contains almost a liter of clear liquid (“coconut water”) and white coconut flesh.
For many people coconuts provide the main source of fat. Coconut fat is produced by pressing or extracting the copra (dried coconut fruit flesh).

Foodstuffs and ingredients:

  • Coconut “milk” (as opposed to “water”) is obtained by pressing the fruit flesh. It is used in many dishes, sauces, soups and alcoholic drinks, e.g. piña colada.

  • Coconut fat is used as frying and cooking fat and is used in margarine.

  • The processed fat is also found in chocolates, waffles, or chocolate coatings. On melting, coconut fat produces a noticeable cooling effect ("ice chocolate").

  • Coconut water contains many vitamins and in the countries in which it is grown is valued as a drinking water substitute. It is also fermented to wine and is processed to other drinks.

Energy crops, renewable primary products:

  • coconut is also a constituent of cosmetics such as body oil, soap, shampoo and creams.
  • the tough, hard fibres of the coconut are used in mats, carpets, ropes, mattress fillings and as fillings for seats and cushions.
  • the leaves are used: bound together as brooms, made into mats, and woven into hats and baskets.
  • the wood of the coconut palm is used in building houses, making furniture and shipbuilding.
  • the coconut shell is a high-grade fuel, especially in the form of charcoal.
  • biodiesel is manufactured from coconut oil and can be mixed with conventional diesel. In the Philippines, the production of biodiesel from coconut oil is state subsidised.

 

Gene technology: aims of research and development

Agronomic traits

Resistance to pests

Plant development

  • In Vietnam research on GM coconuts is being undertaken to obtain quicker-growing and longer-durable varieties. In addition, the plants should be resistant to pathogens.

Quality traits

 

Field trials with GM coconuts

To date, research projects have been restricted to the laboratory and greenhouse. No field tests have been carried out on genetically modified coconuts.

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