GMO apples could find their way into a produce bin at your local grocery store. If the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves a pending policy, an apple a day might no longer keep the doctor away. GMO labeling is not yet a reality, so genetically modified apples (GE) could potentially also find their way into containers of applesauce, juice and baby food – with the consumer being none the wiser. The US Apple Association, Northwest Horticultural Council, and the British Columbia Fruit Growers Association have all been vocal in their opposition to GMO apples. The US apple group represents growers who produce more than 60 percent of the crop grown in the county.
The apples by Okanagan Specialty Fruit are genetically modified so they don’t brown when sliced, but they could cause contamination of nearby organic fruit while still on the trees, according to a Center for Food Safety report. Pre-sliced apples are reportedly already a frequently recalled food product. Once a whole fruit has been sliced, the risk of exposure to pathogens increases. By masking the natural browning process in apples, the risk of eating contaminated produce appears to increase. Pre-sliced apples are popular among families with small children.
An excerpt from the Center for Food Safety GE apples report reads:
“Since FDA does no independent, pre-market safety testing of GE food there are several unanswered questions about the 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. Although these ‘botox apples’ are primarily targeted to the fresh-sliced apple market they could also find their way into non-GE juice, baby foods or apple sauce at the processing level, all products predominantly eaten by children and babies who are at increased risk for any adverse health effects.
Public comment period on the so-called “Arctic” apples ends today. The majority of corn, soybeans, and canola grown in the United States have been genetically modified. GMO crops were supposed to reduce the reliance on chemical herbicides and help feed the hungry masses around the world both quickly and cheaply. The great genetic engineering experiment by biotech giants such as Monsanto has not exactly gone as planned.
The Okanagan Specialty Fruit company claims they will require GMO apple growers to label the produce as “Arctic Variety,” but such a designation will mean virtually nothing to any shopper who does not follow the GMO crops issue closely and does not understand what the sticker means. If the genetically modified apple is approved, it will be commercialized as Golden Delicious and Granny Smith varieties.
Okanagan Specialty Fruits President Neal Carter had this to say about genetically modified apples:
“No matter what anybody says, people buy with their eyes. Artic Apples are going to be a lot more perfect looking than conventional apples.”
Horticultural Council President Christian Schlect is concerned that the introduction of the Arctic non-browning apple into the marketplace will hurt the “positive, healthy and even patriotic” image of the apple. “This is a difficult issue and we’re still sorting our way through it. There may be places where the technology will produce some great advance that will benefit consumers and growers, but in this particular case we didn’t find it that way,” Schlect said.
The Non-GMO Project is working in conjunction with other food safety advocacy groups to push for a moratorium on all new GMO crops and for a GMO labeling law.
“The biotech industry is taking American into a more pesticide-dependent agriculture when they’ve always promised, and we need to be going in, the opposite direction,” Bill Freese of the Center for Food Safety said.
How do you feel about genetically engineered apples?
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