Build a Better Apple

better-appleNon-browning GMO potatoes may be beaten to your local store by non-browning apples. Many outlets carry news of the USDA’s approval of Arctic Apples® for commercial use. They’ll be marketed as Arctic Grannies and Arctic Goldens.

Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc. has inserted a non-bruising trait into the apples using gene silencing and precision breeding – they’ve created a GMO apple that won’t brown after being cut. No more dropping each slice in a bowl of lemon-scented water as you prepare pie filling; now you can pre-slice apples for your lunchbox; and no more sulfites on pre-sliced apples at the salad bar. Well, I guess it will depend on the price and the taste, but we’ll have a chance to find out in 2017.

Some folks are outraged. For example, “the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), which petitioned the USDA to deny approval, said the genetic changes that prevent browning could be harmful to human health, and pesticide levels on the apples could be excessive.” Note the “could” and “could” – there’s no proof. I’m sure OCA would say “yet.”

OCA’s opposition strikes me as self-defeating. Surely people who prefer organic will be more motivated than ever to buy their produce. As various articles point out, the USDA only evaluated the apples’ impact on agriculture, not on humans. “The Food and Drug Administration, which has no mandatory review process for genetically engineered foods, is looking at the new apples through a voluntary consultation with Okanagan.” The company is confident since the “apples have undergone ‘rigorous review’ and are ‘likely the most tested apples on the planet.’”

The Arctic Apple® takes GMOs to a new place. Not life saving like microbes that manufacture insulin, not nutritional like Golden Rice, not enhancing profits like Roundup resistant soybeans. Just convenient, just nice-to-have. (Well – okay – less bruising will probably help with profits, too. But – raising apples is a business and all business is about money.) Will consumers buy it? I, for one, will give it a try. I plan to buy one, eat half of it, and leave the rest, sliced, on my counter for hours.

We’ve posted about GMOs before.

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