The nation’s first GMO apples will go on sale in ten Midwestern stores beginning in February. The Golden Delicious apples, sold sliced in plastic pouches, have been genetically modified not to brown for three full weeks once sliced, according to Organic Authority.
However, the novelty of a non-browning apple fails to balance with the potential risks of such a product. GMO apples could pose a contamination risk to both organic and non-organic apple growers. Also, the non-browning apple will decay just like any other apple, but will not turn brown. This poses several health risks in addition to the ongoing concerns over the safety of genetically engineered foods.
According to the Canadian Biotech Action Network (CBAN), the GMO apples will not be clearly labelled as genetically modified. CBAN is a member of the Steering Committee of the Campaign to STOP GE Trees.
GJEP’s Ruddy Turnstone notes the importance of fighting the release of GMOs from before product conceptualization to placement at the grocery store.
“People need to work to defund the GMO research paid with taxpayer money, put pressure on the regulating institutions for stronger standards, make our presence known to the corporations churning out the GMOs, have the conversations with the farmers and landowners growing the GMOs and hold the grocery stores that sell them accountable,” Turnstone said. “We will win the fight when we take a stronger cradle-to-grave approach to GMOs because its not just about our bodies — its about the detrimental impacts they are having to ecosystems, releasing them globally without long-term testing, the suppression of good science, and the unethical commodification of life. The commercial release of the GE Apple encompasses all these aspects in every bag sold.”
From Organic Authority:
The apple slices are sold under the Arctic brand and are produced by Okanagan Specialty Fruits of Summerland, B.C., which grows the apples in British Columbia and Washington State. The apples were genetically engineered using a gene silencing technique that reduces the amount of the enzyme polyphenol oxidase (PPO) in the apples, which causes apple flesh to oxidize when exposed to air.
According to Arctic, while PPO is important in protecting certain fruits and vegetables, it does not play an important role in the protection of apples.
“Tomatoes produce high levels of PPO when attacked by pests or pathogens,” explains the company. “In contrast, apples produce very low levels of PPO, and only in very young fruit. Its presence is probably left over from apples of ages ago, playing no role in today’s apples.”
Granny Smith and Fuji varieties of GMO apple have also been approved for sale in the United States and in Canada.