Baby’s breath, a staple of bridal bouquets, could become Kenya’s first commercially grown genetically modified (GM) flower.
By introducing genes that alter the color of baby’s breath’s tiny white flowers, producers hope to create a new offering from Kenya’s flower industry. This is despite a decision to halt field trials of GM crops, including GM maize and cotton.
But unlike crops, flowers do not have the same safety concerns. In a report by the United States Department of Agriculture, the regulator concludes: “Given the non-controversial nature of the GM plant in terms of food and environmental safety, Gypsophila may be the first GM plant to be commercialized in Kenya.”
The East African country is a major flower exporter, with its flowers sold in more than 60 countries. With a price tag of 70.8 billion Kenyan shillings ($680 million), the flower industry is a major contributor to its gross domestic product.
If successful, Kenya would be the first country to authorize the production of these varieties….
About 95% of the flowers grown in Kenya are exported, says Kenyan Flower Council CEO Jane Ngige. The European Union is a major market for Kenya’s flower industry with a market share of 38%, she says.
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