PPDL Picture of the W​eek

June 26, 2017


Janna Beckerman, Professor,Botany and Plant Pathology, Purdue University

On May 16th, The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) confirmed that US flower growers were to destroy numerous petunia varieties because they were genetically engineered (GE) to produce more vivid colors. Although the flowers pose no risk to anyone (except apparently, themselves), or the environment, regulations require genetically modified organisms (GMO) to have special permits to be sold in the United States. The USDA continued, stating that “consumers who may have p​urchased GE petunias need take no action,” and that petunias also “have no sexually compatible wild relatives in the United States, are not plant pests and are not listed as noxious weeds.” The horticulture industry has moved quickly, destroying millions of plants. This is a voluntary response, and as a result, the plants are still available. You can find a list of these plants here:  


For the short term, the industry is working to remove the plants. In the long-term, hopefully, we will have better policies in place to address grower risks, but more importantly, consumer concerns about genetically modified plants, such as these gorgeous petunias.  This is a learning moment, if people are willing to listen. To learn more about GMO plants, and their role in ho​rticulture and agriculture, click here: 



​Cli​ck image to enlarge

Suspected orange GMO petunia.
Photo by Janna Beckerman
This supertunia was listed on the APHIS website as requiring a US permit.  It was found here in Indiana.
Photo by Janna Beckerman