GMO Apples May Soon Be On Your Plate




Comparison of natural apple vs Arctic apple(GMO) over 24 hours
B. McPherson
Granny Smith has been tinkered with. The fine folks at Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc. have developed a genetically altered apple that cannot turn brown when exposed to air. The BC company, located in Summerland has managed to turn off a gene that allows the apple’s normally white flesh to turn brown when it is damaged. They have dubbed their altered version of Granny Smith and Golden Delicious apples Arctic Apples. 

While the trees have been grown, the GM apples have not yet received approval from either Canada’s  food protection agency or the US, but they are definitely in the pipeline. If they receive approval for commercial plantings, the “silenced gene” trait may spread to other apple varieties as apples are pollinated by flying insects.

One of the ways that a shopper can judge the quality and freshness of fruit is visually. If apples have brown spots and ugly bruising, they may well be rejected or marked down in price. If apple slices in a cafĂ© are brown it is unlikely they can be used on a customer’s plate. With the new GM Arctic Apple, there is no worry for the vendor as these apples will not turn that ugly brown that signals rot.

The silencing of the browning gene has potential advantages to the grower,to the shipper and to the vendor, but the advantage to the consumer who ultimately supports the industry is pretty hard to find. The ability to be able to reject apples that are bruised, browning and past their ‘best before’ by quickly assessing visually will be lost. Those farmers who choose to grow tree fruits by careful attention to quality will be at a disadvantage economically.

Perhaps there is no health disadvantage in eating the Arctic Apples. Perhaps there is an advantage in buying them as they won’t turn off little tykes when mom slices up some sections for them. Consumers should have a choice in these matters. Label the genetically altered food so consumers can make informed decisions.

Addendum
Last week voters in Washington State, USA, rejected areferendum to require labelling of GM produce. Biotech corporations and junk food manufacturers teamed up to produce a roller coaster of an anti-labelling campaign.

Video from Rachel Maddow show explains some of the campaign.

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