Are Cut Flowers GMO?
Are Cut Flowers GMO (Genetically Modified)?
It can be Hard To Tell
In recent years, there has been an increase in the production of genetically modified (GM) flowers for commercial use. As a result, many consumers are now wondering if the cut flowers they buy from their local florists or grocery stores are genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The answer is yes and no.
Although there are some GM flowers on the market, the vast majority of cut flowers sold commercially are not GMOs. This is because the majority of cut flowers are grown and harvested from natural, non–GMO sources in other countries that do not use GMO as much as in the US. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule.
Some florists and large–scale flower growers have started to use GM varieties of flowers in their production because by genetically changing the flowers they can make them more robust and resilient, and they may also have a longer shelf life than their natural counterparts.
The use of GM flowers has raised some concerns among consumers, particularly those who are concerned about the potential health and environmental risks associated with GM organisms. In particular, some worry that GM flowers could be harmful to human health if they are not properly labeled and are consumed without the knowledge of their GMO status. But in the United States any commercial flower purchase will clearly state they are NOT for human or animal consumption. But this is not just about GMO.
Most flowers are labeled as not for human consumption because of the chemicals used to raise the flowers.
Some estimates have International flower production responsible for up to 90% of the production of some flower varieties. Those countries may, or may not, be using chemicals or practices that mirror the safety stands we usually expect.
The international flower market is a complex process that involves a variety of factors and requires the cooperation of many different entities. From the growers, to the shippers, to the florists, each of these groups plays a vital role in ensuring that flowers are available to be enjoyed by people all over the world. This international system of flower delivery is largely why flowers are so inexpensive and plentiful today and you can enjoy a fresh assortment of flowers in your local grocery store.
The first step in international flower production is the growing of the flowers. This step involves selecting a location to grow the flowers, which typically must be free of disease and pests, have an adequate amount of sunlight, and have a suitable climate for the type of flower being grown. Those flowers are often treated with chemicals that are not approved in the US so that is why all commercial flowers are clearly labeled as not for human consumption. But they are probably not GMO though. Why?
GMO is genetically redesigning a fruit, vegetable (or flower) to produce traits that would not normally occur in nature (or could take many generations to bring about by more natural selection methods). The desired traits usually have to do with durability for transport, pest resistance, or other factors that can impact the financial viability of a crop.
Despite public concerns, the majority of scientists and experts agree that the risks associated with GMO in general is minimal to the consumer (but there are legitimate concerns by farmers that GMO is not meeting all the initial promises that GMO would help with weed issues).
But with regard to cut flowers, the consumer may even benefit from GMO in that it could potentially increase shelf life in the future and ensure flowers are more robust and can withstand transit better. But since the majority of flowers currently being produced are NOT GMO, this remains speculation on how the future may play out.
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