David Murdock, owner of the Dole Food Co. is seeking the "perfect" rose: The Dole Food Co. is giving North Carolina State University $1.4 million for a three-year study to genetically engineer a red rose that lives longer than current varieties, contains fewer thorns and produces a better aroma, the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer reported.
The research is to begin next month in Raleigh and then expand to Kannapolis, N.C., where Dole is building a $1 billion biotechnology facility. NCSU Associate Professor Bryon Sosinski said, “We’re not looking to add the gene but alter the way the plant uses the gene.” A research team of six men and three women will spend the next three years developing the perfect rose.
The researchers will examine how roses are cut, shipped and handled and the water in which they are shipped in an effort to extend vase life from the current seven to 10 days to as long as three to four weeks, the Charlotte Observer reported. If the "perfect rose" is developed, N.C. State will keep the intellectual property rights and then license the work to Dole Food Company.
Dole's Fresh Flowers division, based in Miami, accounted for 4 percent of the company's $5.3 billion 2004 in revenues. Its line of fresh flowers has more than 800 varieties, and its rose plantations produce more than 250 million stems annually.