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Okanagan Specialty Fruits, the developer of the non-browning GE Arctic apple, claims that the apples may be sold in bagged slices in up to 400 stores this season throughout the Midwest and Southern California. According to Technology Review, Okanagan say the GE apples will not come with any label indicating its genetically engineered status. Instead, there will be a QR code that links to a Web page with information on how the apples were made.

From the Technology Review article:

To some, genetic slowing of the browning process could seem like a solution in search of a problem. Commercial apple slices are already preserved with a mixture of calcium and vitamin C, which keeps them from browning long enough to be ordered via Amazon. At home, many cooks know a squirt of lemon juice does the trick, at least for a few hours.

Groups opposing GMOs have protested the introduction of Okanagan’s apples and pressured food companies including Burger King not to sell them. Friends of the Earth told the Independent that the Arctic apple is “understudied, unlabeled, and unnecessary.” Because of widespread opposition, genetically modified foods are subject to an array of labeling rules and even outright bans around the world.

The Canadian Biotechnology Network (CBAN)’s GM Apples page includes many reasons to reject GE apples:

  • The GM apple is unnecessary. There are already non-GM techniques that industry and consumers use to slow browning after apples are cut (the industry uses ascorbic acid and the public uses lemon juice). Additionally, many varieties of apples are naturally slow-browning.
  • At least 38% of Canadians do not want to eat the GM apple (according to a 2015 Ipsos Reid poll commissioned by CBAN). Before it was approved, 69% of Canadians don’t want the GM apple approved (according to a 2012 survey conducted for the BC Fruit Growers’ Association and the Quebec Apple Producers’ Association).
  • The GM apple will not be labelled as genetically modified. The company says the apple will carry the company “Arctic” logo.
  • The GM apple threatens the market position for all apples. The BC Fruit Growers’ Association asked for a moratorium on approval of the GM apple to protect the market from consumer backlash and confusion.
  • Possible GM contamination is a risk for apple producers. Organic growers are particularly concerned about contamination from GM apples because GM is prohibited in organic farming.
  • Our government reviewed the safety of the GM apple based on company data that is kept confidential. The government did not consult with farmers and consumers, and did not consider economic or social concerns before it approved the GM apple.
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