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Anti-aging technology that might prevent roses from wilting

Monsanto, an ST. Louis biotech company is working on an anti-aging technology for flowers. The company is using genetic engineering that can be fed to plants through vase water. The new technology as noted in a filed patent describes testing a new way of stopping carnations, roses, and petunias from wilting.

If this technology will be successful, it would mean great news for flower farmers and distributors. Flowers could be transported to supermarkets and florist when they are just ready to bloom. The Current attempts to achieve this goal have forced the fresh-cut flower industry to rely on airplanes, toxic chemicals, and tanks of anti-aging gas.

The new approach is different from a plant that has a permanently changed genome or GMO since it involves temporally modification of the function of particular plant gene by feeding the molecules to their roots or spritzing them with genetic molecules called RNA.

Monsanto is famously known for its transgenic corn and soybeans and also being the target for anti-GMO campaigners. In 2014 Monsanto’s scientists Jill Deikman and Nicholas Wagner attempted to use RNA to interfere with how cut flowers make ethylene, an odorless gas know as ‘the aging hormone’ this marked the beginning of the anti-aging project.

In Monsanto’s patent, the company has claimed that it had some success blocking the hormone through doping vase water with RNA that had been designed to prevent ethylene production. Plants got rating after about two weeks.

If Monsanto managed to utilize RNA concept to bottle up molecules that make plants bloom on command or do other tricks, it would be a real big deal. According to Hilary Rogers, a scientist at Cardiff University in the U.K., if the technology works and is integrated into the supply chain, it will meet a real need in the flower industry. She further notes that the industry is facing huge challenges coping with a very perishable crop. The hidden environmental cost including shipping flowers by air spurs some critics to say that buying a flower is not worth.

According to 2013 data, Global export of cut flowers, bulbs, and live plants was worth $20 billion. Ecuador, Holland, and Colombia were the leading exporter. Approximately 80% of flowers sold in the U.S. were imported.

Featured Image credit:seattletimes

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