USDA approves “Orange Petunias” for sale in the United States

Westhoff is proud to announce the official USDA/APHIS non-regulated status of the A1DFR gene- containing Petunias, commonly referred to as “Orange Petunias”. As of this date, Petunia sp. varieties containing the A1DFR gene, the gene responsible for imparting an orange pigment to the flowers, are permitted for sale in the American market.

“This is the culmination or two and a half years of work on behalf of our breeders and the US government,” says Christian Westhoff, President of Westhoff. “This marks a milestone, not only for Westhoff and our partners, but our entire industry, as we move forward into a new era of plant breeding and variety development.” 

Following the discovery of a foreign gene in orange colored and other Petunia varieties in 2017, their sale was restricted, and existing plants ordered destroyed. Canada was the first country to allow for the continued sale of these plants and now the US has followed suit. And although the change from regulated to non-regulation status allows for these, and future, A1DFR petunias to be sold free of restrictions, it is important to note that it is not an open allowance for all genetically modified petunias. No new genetic alterations have been made since the original event in the late 1980’s and all the A1DFR Petunias on the market today have been bred traditionally and their parentage can be traced back to this single event.

Westhoff wants it to be clear that although two of the breeders from Westhoff, Dr. Manfred Mehring-Lemper and Dr. Diro Terefe Ayana, were the driving force behind the multi-year effort to return these to the US consumers, all varieties that contain the A1DFR gene can be legally sold, regardless of the company that developed the variety. This approach is consistent with Westhoff’s long-held corporate mandate to ensure that novel breeding is brought to the marketplace, without restrictions, to allow for a competitive, innovative, and robust floriculture industry.

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