U.S. flower sellers rush to destroy illegal GE petunias

Last changed: 17 May 2017

Science

Selected news 
by Mistra Biotech

"The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced today that U.S. flower distributors have begun to destroy countless petunia plants after federal scientists confirmed that they were genetically engineered (GE) to produce vivid orange, red, and purple blooms. The agency says the flowers pose no risk to the environment or to human health, but GE organisms need special permits to be sold in the United States."

"The U.S. discovery follows similar discoveries of genetically modified petunias in Finland and the European Union, which also bar the growing and sale of GE plants without special permits. Finnish regulators banned the sale of GE orange petunias on 27 April, and the European Union has begun an investigation. Many European breeders and distributors are now tracing the GE plants so they can be withdrawn from the market and destroyed."

"The petunias aren’t the first GE plant to show up where they aren’t supposed to. Regulators periodically discover GE corn, soybeans, and other crops in nations or places where they aren’t allowed, fueling concerns about adequate regulation. The United States is currently overhauling its rules for the regulation of biotechnology products. Draft guidelines USDA released in January propose exempting from regulation plants with DNA from a sexually compatible species and with DNA changes also possible through older chemical or radiation-based methods. A spokesperson for the Finnish food safety regulator Evira told The Telegraph that the agency suspects a gene from maize gave the petunias their unnatural hue." - David Malakoff 16/5


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