GM not just in orange petunias

GM is in more than just orange petunias and breeders will have to throw away a range of other colours if they have the unauthorised GM gene.

Pétunia African Sunset - image: Flickr/Serres Fortier
Pétunia African Sunset - image: Flickr/Serres Fortier

European and US growers have had to throw away thousands of the banned GM bedding plants in the last month after Finnish food agency Evira discovered GM that had accidently got into petunias.

Plants for Europe's Graham Spencer says: "It’s going beyond orange petunias. Reds are coming in."

He said the transgene had spread through other petunia breeding, probably originating from Petunia ‘African Sunset’. Breeders and breeding companies are checking records to see if they have used the GM gene elsewhere in their breeding. It may be necessary to to grow old varieties again to fill gaps, he added.

US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS) said: "APHIS recently learned that several varieties of petunias genetically engineered (GE) to produce various hues of orange, red and purple coloured flowers have been imported into the United States from Africa, Asia, Central America, Europe, South America, as well as the countries of Australia, Israel, and Mexico, and distributed interstate without proper authorization.

"APHIS is working in close cooperation with breeders and growers represented by the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) and AmericanHort to ensure the implicated GE petunia varieties are withdrawn from distribution. Several distributors have already voluntarily removed GE petunias from distribution and destroyed them in accordance with APHIS guidance."

UK agency APHA has confirmed GM petunias are present in the UK but says there are no updates on their investigations.

British Protected Ornamentals Association technical committee chairman Mike Smith said he hoped the GM storm was over: "The plants won’t be here next year so that is the end of it – hopefully."

Smith said publicity over the controversial GM issue had not affected petunia sales, apart from ones that were thrown away.

Growers are receiving compensation for orange petunias for breeders, or at least other plants as replacement, but some might still lose money if they have planted them up in mixed baskets for instance and have had to undo their work.

"I think the story has gone. Someone found it and didn’t realise," Smith said.

APHIS said consumers who may have purchased GE petunias need take no action, as the petunias are not considered to pose a risk to human health or the environment. Retailers, growers and breeders are being asked to voluntarily withdraw GE petunias from distribution. The petunia varieties that tests have confirmed to be genetically engineered so far include:

  1. African Sunset

  2. Trilogy Mango

  3. Trilogy Deep Purple

  4. Trilogy Red

  5. Trilogy ’76 Mix-Liberty Mix

  6. Fortunia Early Orange

  7. Hells Bells Improved

  8. Petunia Salmon Ray

  9. Sweetunia Orange Flash 

 HTA GM petunia list:

African Sunset**

Bingo Orange*

Bingo Coral Blast

Bingo Mandarin*

Bingo Orange Morn*

Bonnie Orange (or Bonnie Orange 15)**

Bonnie Red 14** (variety used to produce the mixtures Trixi La Bomba and Trixi Coco Bello)

Capella Red

Cascadias Red Lips

Charms Flame 2-140

Crazytunia Cherry Cheesecake (aka Crazytunia Swiss Dancer)*

Crazytunia Citrus Twist**

Crazytunia Kabloom

Crazytunia Star Jubilee*

Electric Orange (or Famous Electric Orange)**


GN2012-01 Type Homare*/** (experimental variety offered for trialling)

Go!Tunia Orange**

GS Hellorange

Happy Classic Orange Morn 0-65

Happy Classic Yellow Orange Stripes 0-82


Hells Fruit Punch*


Maui Sands**

Mini Blast Rose*/**

My Love Orange**

Orange 15

Orange Star (or Pegasus Orange Star)**

Orange Yellow Centre 749 (07336)

Orange Yellow Zone 225

Pegasus Orange**

Pegasus Orange Morn**


Pegasus Table Orange

Potunia Plua Papaya (or Potunia Plus Papaya)**

Potunia Plus Red Art.40302

Raspberry Blast*/**

Salmon Ray* (or Ray Salmon)

Sanguna Salmon**

Sentuna 2.0 GShell Orange Nr. 11-45

Sentuna 2.0 Rose Coral 315

Stars Yellow Orange

Trilogy Deep Purple*/**

Trilogy Mango*/**

Trilogy Red*/**

Viva Fire**

Viva Orange

Viva Orange Vein


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