GENET archive


2-Plants: Suntory announced first blue GE rose

-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Roses are red, roses are blue?
SOURCE: South African Press Agency / Agence France Press
DATE:   30 Jun 2004

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Roses are red, roses are blue?

Tokyo - Major Japanese brewer Suntory on Wednesday unveiled the world's
first genetically modified blue rose which it hopes will hit markets
within four years.

After 14 years of research, Suntory created the blue rose by implanting
the gene that leads to the synthesis of blue pigment in pansies.

The colour of the new rose comes entirely from the pigment Delphinidin,
which does not exist in natural roses, Suntory said.

"The creation of the blue rose was once believed to be impossible. But we
have continued our work to produce it," Suntory president Nobutada Saji
told a news conference.

Conventional breeding technology can create "blue" roses, which commonly
appear purple and gray, rather than striking blue. Their colours come
from red or orange pigments and the flowers do not contain Delphinidin.

Suntory's rose also appears to be more violet than blue, with company
officials admitting more work was necessary to create roses with bright
sky blue colours.

"More research is needed to create roses with sky blue. We know we need
to add chemical compounds to create brighter blue colours," said Takaharu
Tanaka, head of the Institute for Advanced Technology of Suntory that
conducts research for biotech business.

"Technologically, we are absolutely successful in creating a blue rose
because of the blue pigment in the flower. But for our rose to be
recognised by everyone to be blue, maybe we are only a half way there,"
Tanaka said.

Suntory, also a major whiskey distiller, has spent billions to create the
blue rose, blue carnations and other genetically modified blue flowers.

In 1990 Suntory teamed up with Calgene Pacific, an Australian biotech
venture, for the project and bought the firm in 2003, renaming it Florigene.

Once the blue rose is deemed safe for breeding, Suntory hopes to grow the
global market for the genetically modified blue flowers.

Suntory officials said it would take at least two and a half years for
testing and inspections before the genetically modified plant is deemed
safe to breed for the environment.

Suntory hopes to merchandising the blue rose in 2007 or 2008.

"As a company in the food industry, we have developed businesses to
enrich people's lives. We have continued research and development
activities for our flower operations because flowers adds flavors to
people's lives and help sustain spiritual health," Saji said.


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