Apple season is quickly approaching. And after the USDA approved the first genetically engineered (GE) apple last year, Intrexon – the company that makes it – has started planting the first commercial GE apple orchards!
But we still have a chance to keep these apples off the market. Fast food restaurants purchase lots of apples – and they may switch to the GE varieties.
Burger King could be one of the biggest buyers. So if we can convince it to reject these apples, we can help stop them from reaching our dinner plates!
The GE apple — known as the “Arctic Apple ®” — was genetically engineered to not turn brown when cut. Of course, browning in apples can be prevented naturally by applying lemon juice or another source of vitamin C — making this GE apple completely unnecessary.
What’s more, these apples may look fresh when actually they have been on the shelf for quite a while. Pre-sliced apples are a frequently recalled food product. Once the whole fruit is sliced, it has an increased risk of exposure to pathogens. Since browning is a sign that apples are no longer fresh, “masking” this natural signal could lead people to consume contaminated apples, which is why some folks are calling it the “botox apple.”
Further, since FDA does no independent, pre-market safety testing of GE food there are several unanswered questions about the environmental and food safety of GE apples. “Silencing” the genes that make apples turn brown when exposed to oxygen could have unintended consequences that will only be tested by hungry consumers.
Even the apple industry has opposed this genetically engineered product. The U.S. Apple Association, Northwest Horticultural Council (which represents Washington apple growers, who grow over 60% of the apples in the U.S.), British Columbia Fruit Growers Association and other grower groups have already voiced their disapproval of these GE apples.
If the apple industry doesn’t want GE apples, and consumers don’t want GE apples, who do these apples really benefit? As usual, this product only benefits the biotech industry and big food processing companies.
The good news is McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Gerber have already indicated that they don’t plan to use these GE apples. Burger King could be next.