Pineapple

It sounds harmless enough, like something you’d serve on special occasions. But Del Monte’s red-fleshed Rosé pineapple is special for another reason: it’s genetically modified.

According to Food Democracy Now, “The company has altered the fruit to “overexpress” a gene derived from the tangerine and to suppress other genes, increasing accumulation of lycopene, a natural chemical,” and “The plant’s flowering cycle has also been changed to provide for more uniform growth and quality.”

Del Monte claims its still in a testing phase with the fruit, but the USDA has approved it for shipment to the U.S. While it may not seem like such a big deal to bring in another GMO crop into a country where 80 percent of our processed foods contain genetically modified ingredients. It’s the exception to the biotechnology permit that’s particularly of concern.

The GMO pineapples are currently being grown in Costa Rica. Del Monte grows about half of its produce on company-owned farms, and Costa Rica is its “most significant sourcing location,” notes the company’s 2012 financial report, accounting for more than one-third of Del Monte’s $1.5 billion in fresh produce sales for 2012.

According to APHIS, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Del Monte’s Rosé doesn’t have “the ability to propagate and persist in the environment once they have been harvested” in Costa Rica, so the agency has waived the permit phase of approval.

The pineapples are grown commercially in typical monoculture fashion, which Del Monte claims “prevents seed production” and compatible pollen sources are not present, further decreasing any possible germination. Similarly, temperatures in the (contiguous) U.S. are not favorable for growing pineapple.

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

Image: Lifesupercharger