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Farewell to Orange Petunias

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posted on May, 26 2017 @ 06:37 PM
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Or otherwise known as why we can't have nice things. Turns out for those who don't know orange isn't a normal color variant in petunias. Over the years some salmon/terra cotta colors have been developed but as a gardner they didn't exactly scream "buy me!!". So imagine my shock to find out last week there is an international ongoing drama over orange petunias.

The call to arms began in Helsinki and rapidly spread to the UK and even the US. Some of the most exotic and good looking petunia varieties such as Trilogy Mango, African Sunset and others have turned out to be GMO engineered. Now while all these have been now pulled from the market we're left with both empty spots in our hanging baskets and a LOT of questions. Like how did these slip into the supply chain without being checked and vetted? Who's responsible?



Some of the recent article titles are (to me) hilarious, altho accurate and warranted.



How the transgenic petunia carnage of 2017 began


Two years ago, plant biologist Teemu Teeri was walking by a train station in Helsinki when he noticed some vivid orange petunias in a planter. The flowers reminded Teeri, who has studied plant pigments at the University of Helsinki, of blooms created in a landmark gene-engineering experiment some 30 years earlier. As far as he knew, those flowers never made it to market. But he was curious, and he stuck a stem in his backpack.

Now, that chance encounter has ended up forcing flower sellers on two continents to destroy vast numbers of petunias. Teeri ultimately confirmed that the plants contained foreign DNA, and he tipped off regulators in Europe and the United States, who have identified other commercial strains that are genetically engineered (GE). Although officials say the GE petunias pose no threat to human health or the environment—and likely were unknowingly sold for years—they’ve asked sellers to destroy the flowers, because it’s illegal to sell them in the United States and Europe without a permit.




Teeri then made a decision he now regrets: spilling the beans to a former Ph.D. student who had taken a job as a regulator at the Finnish Board for Gene Technology. “I told too much,” he says. “I should have asked a hypothetical question,” about what would happen if regulators discovered GE petunias that had not gone through the proper regulatory channels. On 27 April, Evira, Finland’s food safety body, called for eight petunia varieties to be removed from the market. Other European nations also began investigations.

By 2 May, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) was on alert. It worked with breeders to perform a standard GE screen, searching suspect petunias’ DNA for the cauliflower mosaic virus sometimes used to control the expression of an inserted gene. Like several early workhorses of genetic engineering, the virus is officially considered a “plant pest,” and plants containing its DNA are subject to APHIS regulation. The testing has so far revealed 10 varieties of GE petunia, and 21 others have been “implicated as potentially GE.” In a guidance to the industry, it gave growers and sellers several options: Incinerate, autoclave, bury, compost, or dispose of the plants in a landfill.

The doomed petunias may number in the thousands, though industry groups couldn’t provide precise estimates. Some companies appear to have unwittingly purveyed the plants for nearly a decade, says Michael Firko, deputy administrator of APHIS’s Biotechnology Regulatory Services division in Riverdale, Maryland. A member of his team even discovered the orange flowers in a centerpiece at a graduation party earlier this month. “She was tempted to take a sample, but she didn’t want to destroy the nice floral display,” Firko says.

www.sciencemag.org...

While this affects breeders and wholesalers more than us little gardeners it begs the question what else is sneaking into our countries without our knowledge. It's great that this came to light even tho it was over a much abused and taken for granted garden annual. While no one yet is confirming that GMO petunias pose a hazard to the environment, it's probably better to err on the side of caution.



Testing continues, but USDA says it has already confirmed nine unwelcome varieties. They are:

African Sunset (the petunia initially identified as GE)
Trilogy Mango
Trilogy Deep Purple
Trilogy Red
Trilogy ’76 Mix-Liberty Mix
Fortunia Early Orange
Hells Bells Improved
Petunia Salmon Ray
Sweetunia Orange Flash



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.

News of the U.S. investigation was first broken on 14 May by Greenhouse Management News. “[T]he implicated plants were not properly registered with the USDA as GE plants because no one seemed to know that they contained or were bred with GE plant material,” Michelle Simakis and Karen E. Varga reported. Breeders believe the GE material entered the petunia breeding chain some time ago, they report, and then went unnoticed by breeders who use conventional methods to produce plants.

"It’s one of those things where I think [the GE plant] sprang up during an age of innocence and perpetuated itself because no one even knew to look for it or fathomed that it was in the germplasm chain," Steve Wiley, general manager of American Takii, a horticultural firm based Salinas, California, told the publication.

www.sciencemag.org...

At first glance this looked like a tempest in a tea pot, but as more news is coming out it raises serious questions and obvious gaps in our regulatory methods.

Plus no gardener anywhere EVER likes being told they can't buy a plant they just fell in love with.




posted on May, 26 2017 @ 06:44 PM
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Some the latest news from the "Petunia Front". It's a question and answer with with AmericanHort’s Craig Regelbrugge. I really never paid attention to "the how" of some of this works and am finding it quite a learning curve. This was of particular interest to me. I had no idea even the flower growers are working against more regulations.



GG: How is AmericanHort working with breeders and growers to find a solution to this issue and make sure that no more GE petunias unintentionally creep into the germplasm supply going forward? Will more testing be involved?

Regelbrugge: The approach is both short term and long term. Short term, it has been about managing the regulatory response and the effect it has on the industry. The early work has been to understand where the USDA has flexibility and where it does not. Our goal is to minimize the impact on the industry.

Currently, the industry is trying to get our arms around the complete picture. USDA is doing its own lab testing to confirm whether the implicated varieties were genetically engineered using methodologies that fall within the scope of its regulations, and the affected companies are testing implicated varieties, as well as analyzing other petunia varieties not on the list that may have been crossbred with them.

One component of response has been to come to an agreement with the USDA on what is expected. The USDA has released two guidance documents so far. The first is a general version that talks about what to do with implicated plants. The USDA updates this guidance based on laboratory confirmations of affected or suspected varieties. The second guidance document, released on May 18, covers more specific testing guidelines for the affected companies. It is important that everyone see eye-to-eye on the protocols and resources for testing to avoid money and time wasted on unnecessary lab work.


www.greenhousegrower.com...



posted on May, 26 2017 @ 06:46 PM
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Such a shame that people have to be so transphobic these days.



posted on May, 26 2017 @ 06:55 PM
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originally posted by: Caver78
have turned out to be GMO engineered.


What could possibly go wrong by engineering the production of insecticides into the genetics of plants?



posted on May, 26 2017 @ 06:56 PM
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off-topic post removed to prevent thread-drift


 



posted on May, 26 2017 @ 06:57 PM
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I do not like the smell of petunias.
Does anyone else dislike theirr odor?



posted on May, 26 2017 @ 07:01 PM
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originally posted by: butcherguy
I do not like the smell of petunias.
Does anyone else dislike theirr odor?


That's odd. They are typically a very fragrant flower. Very sweet. I like them. The purple ones are the most fragrant, so I always have a pot of those.

I had some orange and also coral ones potted last summer, or the summer before, can't remember. But I'm not big on orange anyway, and don't like a chaotic looks of colors all around, so I haven't looked for anymore.

Interesting information.



posted on May, 26 2017 @ 07:04 PM
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a reply to: butcherguy

At best they smell like dirty gym socks.
However they are slapped into a garden for a splash if color, not really much else. It helps they used to be cheap, altho they aren't anymore which makes them more ridiculous. Yep....I'm one of the maligners! But I will admit by August when plants go on sale and I have some empty spots between my perennials I have been guilty of slamming some in for something to look at.

Hangs head....shameful I know, but I at least admit the crime!
Book me Danno!!!



posted on May, 26 2017 @ 07:06 PM
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a reply to: angeldoll

After the blooms wilt and I pull the wilted ones out, that smell sticks to my fingers and I have to go wash them right away, even if I have more work to do outside.
The only other flower that I dislike the odor of are marigolds.



posted on May, 26 2017 @ 07:07 PM
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What about FOOD?

FML this is a #king disaster.



posted on May, 26 2017 @ 07:07 PM
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a reply to: angeldoll

Maybe it's the variety of purple you have that's different than the mass produced plants available usually?
I'd be interested to know.



posted on May, 26 2017 @ 07:08 PM
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a reply to: Deaf Alien

Well if we can "spin" this to the Russians are responsible?
LOL



posted on May, 26 2017 @ 07:09 PM
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a reply to: Caver78

Oh, I like the looks of them, even a hanging pot full of them on the porch is nice. I am glad that someone else thinks they smell disagreeable.



posted on May, 26 2017 @ 07:09 PM
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originally posted by: Caver78
a reply to: Deaf Alien

Well if we can "spin" this to the Russians are responsible?
LOL

LOL good one.
BTW your thread is good. Thanks.



posted on May, 26 2017 @ 07:10 PM
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originally posted by: Caver78
a reply to: angeldoll

Maybe it's the variety of purple you have that's different than the mass produced plants available usually?
I'd be interested to know.


I've never noticed. I think with the 'gym socks' you guys must be referring to the foliage. The flowers themselves are fragrant. Do an experiment the next time you see them in different colors. A smell test.




posted on May, 26 2017 @ 07:10 PM
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originally posted by: 0racle
What about FOOD?

FML this is a #king disaster.

No way, I could eat petunias, they way they smell.



posted on May, 26 2017 @ 07:12 PM
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originally posted by: butcherguy
a reply to: angeldoll

After the blooms wilt and I pull the wilted ones out, that smell sticks to my fingers and I have to go wash them right away, even if I have more work to do outside.
The only other flower that I dislike the odor of are marigolds.


I don't care for the scent of marigolds either. Or tomato plants.
They are sticky though!



posted on May, 26 2017 @ 07:21 PM
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a reply to: dfnj2015

This is something you may be interested in. The industry is taking this seriously and are testing apparently everything now to verify it's not GMO. I find that admirable.



There is a theory about how this all began, and how the genetically engineered germplasm or organism was incorporated into so many breeding programs, but the USDA has not confirmed any details yet. Many say the source was from experiments breeding petunias with corn back in the late 1980s.

“We’re aware of a gene engineered into petunia from corn in the 1980s. We don’t know if this is the genetic material in these particular GE petunias. Genetic testing is underway,” the USDA spokesperson said.

Breeders are also conducting their own tests, including Westhoff. Berg says they are not limiting their tests to petunias.

“We have to first start by testing everything. All plants in our current assortment as well as all the plants in our breeding house. The Finnish test was looking specifically at orange lines of petunias, but we can’t say for absolute certainty that this gene hasn’t been incorporated into our other varieties,” Berg says. “And since we have no idea when and how it entered our gene pool, we need to screen all of our plants we’re breeding with.”

Westhoff is concerned about how this will impact plant supplies next year.

“We are working as quickly and as efficiently as possible with the entire breeding community to find a solution for this,” Berg says. “Because GE plants are regulated by the USDA, we expect there will be several varieties from many breeders that won’t be available on the market next year. But the USDA has been very cooperative so far, and I feel they’ll help our industry get these plants back in the hands of consumers in the long term.

“This is an extremely unfortunate event that is going to disrupt a lot of growers and retailers in the next year.”


www.nurserymag.com...

You know, I debated with myself about even bothering to post about this. I came across an blurb in "the daily fail" and altho I was interested, I figured no one else would be. Then as other week wore on more and more ramifications, many more serious articles, it dawned on me this was
a legitimate "thing" with a much wider scope than just some annuals being pulled from the market.
edit on 26-5-2017 by Caver78 because: (no reason given)


(post by Moresby removed for political trolling and baiting)

posted on May, 26 2017 @ 11:14 PM
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Do people not understand that not everything GMO is bad? Yes, some things that are GMO (like Monsanto) are very bad and dangerous. However, GMO is simply us affecting the molecular structure of something. What do you really think cross-breeding plants and animals is, if not GMO?

And for all you true believers of purity and non-GMO for everything. Guess what . . . you'd best get rid of your precious pet puppy or kitty and go replace it with a wolf or a bobcat, because those are the only pure 'dogs' and 'small cats' out there.



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