GMO COMPASS - Information on genetically modified organisms
  Oct 26, 2014 | 5:22 am
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Stories

Genetic engineering of cut flowers


In the past, roses were simply yellow, red or white. Blue roses could not exist: these plants are unable to produce blue pigments naturally. By means of gene technology, this goal has been reached. This is not all: in labs around the world, designer cut flowers are being created with exceptional colours, with prolonged shelf-life, with added fragrances or with built-in frost protection. GM cut flowers can be bought in the EU as well.

Blue roses: The new chromatics of genetic engineering

According to the Australian corporation and market leader Florigene, owned by Japanese group Suntory, novelties sustain the industry. With help of gene technology, new creations could enhance their high market potential. Today, about $40 billion are converted yearly with cut flowers, of which roses have a market share of $10 billion. Plant growers have gone to great lengths for centuries in the quest to grow a blue rose but Florigene is the first corporation that has been able to do so.

Even though this new rose is rather violet than dark blue, the company believes to be close to the goal. This colour change in roses was effected through the transfer of a gene found in violets that controls the production of the blue pigment called Delphinidin. Simultaneously, rose genes that usually produce red and orange pigments were made inoperative.

In 1996, Florigene already had made the first genetically modified, market-ready cut flowers. A pale, violet-coloured carnation with the name of Moondust was presented by the company. To date, five more species of carnations have been added that feature different tones of violet and blue. Four of these species are permitted for marketing within the EU. To date, over 75 million of these flowers were sold worldwide.

Further products are being developed at other corporations. More than two dozen field tests with new designer plants have been permitted. Among them are light blue torenias, bronze coloured forsythia, and yellow petunias. Using gene-technological methods other new characteristics are underway:

  • New fragrances: At the University of Florida, experiments as being conducted to return to roses scents that have been lost during breeding.

  • Prolonged shelf-life: Researchers at the University of Hannover in Germany are developing methods to delay the withering of Flaming Katies and Canterbury bluebells.

  • Improved resistance: The German corporation, Ornamental Bioscience, is working with petunias and poinsettias that are able to endure low temperatures and drought. The flowers are so able to tolerate long – haul transports. Petunias made by this company are already able to withstand minus 6 degrees Celsius without being damaged, but will not be ready for the market until 2011.

 

For the EU, there are also clear labelling regulations for gene modified cut flowers. The carnations ‘Moonlite’ must carry a label with the remark that ‘this product is a genetically modified carnation’ and is ‘not suitable for consumption by humans or animals’.

 

 

 

 


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.

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March 14, 2008 [nach oben springen]

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