GENET archive


2-Plants: Florigene applies to register blue GE carnations in Australia

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TITLE:  Roses are red, GM carnations are blue
SOURCE: The Sydney Morning Herald, Australia, by Kirsty Needham
DATE:   12 Nov 2005

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Roses are red, GM carnations are blue

A man-made blue carnation may become the first genetically modified
product to overcome consumer mistrust of gene technology and be decreed
safe by Parliament.

Florigene, a gene engineering company, has applied to have its blue
carnation placed on a register that would remove the need for dealings in
the flower to be licensed and monitored.

The Gene Technology Regulator, Sue Meek, said the register was set up
under the Gene Technology Act in 2000.

"The legislation anticipated that one day, if GM products were accepted
in the community, there may be a situation where we are so familiar and
have used them for so long that they no longer need to have a licence,"
she said.

No product has made it onto the register. The application comes as
government research shows the public has a limited understanding of how
genetic modification is regulated, but wants strong regulation.

Florigene said its carnation was released in 1995, and it has sold 4.25
million of the cut flowers to florists around the world. The Melbourne
company was taken over by Suntory of Japan in 2003.

Dr Meek said it could be possible to put a product on the register and
still apply conditions. She will make a determination on the flower by
next month, which will then go to Parliament.

Thirteen public submissions have been received, ranging from "people who
object to the use of gene technology to those who are supportive".

Consumer research by Biotechnology Australia, a government agency, has
found the public is split over genetically modified food. However, Dr
Meek said there were mixed attitudes to other types of genetically
modified products.

A poll for Biotechnology Australia last week of 1067 people found that
respondents considered regulation of genetically modified products necessary.

Florigene has made a separate application to conduct the first trial in
Australia of a genetically modified blue rose, developed by Suntory last year.

Dr Meek said the regulator was looking at whether a blue rose could be
inadvertently released into the environment and allow gene transfer,
resulting in it taking over natural roses.


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