Ball Horticultural Company has a very large focus on education. This is education of youth, their suppliers, growers, and employees. It also covers their interns, so all 12 of us were involved in several tours and meetings this past week to educate us on different aspects of the company. My favorite tour of the week was when we got to tour their production and research facility in Elburn, IL.
Ball Horticultural owns several other business and one of those is PanAmerican Seed, a supplier of ornamentals and vegetables. PanAmerican Seed, perhaps best known for CoolWave Petunias, in Elburn also conducts research, in house breeding, and field trials. They have several ongoing field trials that we were able to tour as well as a trial with hydroponics.
Aside from learning about their recent research, we learned how the discovery of the genetically modified orange petunias have been affecting them. If you aren’t sure what I’m referring to, a Finnish company discovered that a particular variety of orange petunias that had been released onto the market unknowingly had come from GM origins. This causes an issue within the EU where GM products are not allowed as well as the US which requires a permit when selling a GM product. Ultimately, the government came to the decision that the orange petunias must be removed from the market. Greenhouses, suppliers, and breeders are now in the midst of testing and removing every variety of petunia on their grounds to determine if they are related to the orange petunias.
At PanAmerican Seed, the petunias are currently sitting in a greenhouse where they are waiting for a break in the planting of ground trials in order to dispose of them. Disposal requires either burning or burial a foot under ground as well as paper and photo documentation as proof. It has been interesting to hear of the GM orange petunia discovery from the marketing and sales side and now to see it first hand from the research and supplier side.