Violets are Blue, and Roses are…Too? Franken-rose in 2009

March 6, 2008 at 9:01 am

Known more for its whisky than its flower development, the Japanese company Suntory Ltd. nevertheless scored a major coup in the floral world in 2004 by creating genetically modified blue roses. Since then, the Australian scientists who work for Suntory have perfected the hitherto elusive flowers and feel the time has come to unleash these freaks of nature — er, beautiful creations — on the romantics of the world. The roses are slated to go on sale in Japan in 2009, reports Inventor Spot. Other countries are sure to follow.

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According to Chinese folklore, a blue rose signifies hope against unattainable love, and Wikipedia says that blue roses signify “mystery or attaining the impossible” (probably because blue roses, are, well, impossible in nature).

So how the heck did scientists accomplish this feat?

Apparently, they found a way to “turn off” certain rose genes and replace them with genes from pansies. These allow the rose’s blue pigments to become synthesized. (I don’t get it, either.)

To be honest, this sort of genetic tampering creeps me out. Nature already provides us with such an amazing variety of flowers that it seems strange to spend time and money creating something that, to me, looks fake. (Even the name of the company, Florigene, is a bit too sci-fi for my taste.)

Commenters on Inventor Spot’s story are remarking that the flowers look lilac, not blue, which is a good point. But all the nitpickers who want a darker shade or truer blue can still go with white roses dyed blue at places like Blue Rose Florist or they can wait until the Australian scientists unveil variations on the color, as they’re expected to do in years to come.

Regardless, next Valentine’s Day you’ll have the option to think blue, not red!

Sarah S.

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Entry filed under: Japanese Beauty, Japanese Culture, Japanese Entertainment. Tags: , , , , , .

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