A blue rose. A camellia that blooms year round. A hibiscus that never needs fertilizer. Lawns that are never attacked by insects. Oranges that smell like bananas and bananas that smell like oranges. Genetic modification, or GM, says it may all be possible.
The promise of new and better garden plants is exciting, but not without a few thorny issues. The knowledge of a plant's genetic footprint and especially how to manipulate that footprint may show scientists how to make double flowers, fragrant ones, more colorful ones. Disease or insect resistance could be added to a plant. Genetic engineering could prevent a plant form from setting seed, therefore producing more flowers.
Tempted by incredible plant possibilities, many people nonetheless fear that we may be lifting the lid on Pandora's box, and what might spill out may never be able to be put back in.
There are numerous concerns to consider. One is the question of biodiversity. Without the diversity offered by the enormous array of plants that have naturally evolved over millennia, the new superplants, grown in a worldwide monoculture, might be left dangerously susceptible to an as yet unknown pest or disease.