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Mar 14, 2010

GM Flowers - New Possibilities to Create the Blue Rose & Red Iris

For years plant breeders have been unsuccessful in trying to grow a true blue rose or a red iris. Australian multinational Florigene, a subsidiary of the Japanese corporation Suntory reports that it has achieved a true blue rose through gene-engineering.  Featured in the photo to the left, Florigene is working on making the rose an even stronger shade of blue.

Florigene was the first company to create the first gene-modified (GM) flower in 1996 – a mauve colored carnation called “Moondust.” Since then it has produced five more GM carnations, all in shades of blue and violet. The colors are produced by controlling genes that produce the blue pigment Delphinidin and at the same time making the red and orange pigments inoperative.

The cut flower market is estimated at $40 billion annually. Approximately one-fourth of the market is for roses, accounting for $10 billion a year. Four of five of Florigene’s GM carnations are allowed for sale in the EU.

There are many other GM flower experiments underway. These include: 1) new rose scents at the University of Florida; 2) prolonged shelf-life at the University of Hanover in Germany; and 3) improved resistance to cold and drought by German multi-national Ornamental Bioscience.

Photo credits: Florigene, Inc., Victoria, Australia

For more see:

"Genetic Engineering of Cut Flowers," GMO Compass, 2010.

"The World's First Biotechnology-driven "Blue Roses" -synonym for the impossible - have been successfully developed," Florigene News, Victoria, Australia, 2010.

About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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