Canadian GMO apples may be sold in the US

A Canada based biotech company is seeking approval to be able to sell a genetically modified apple in the U.S. designed to take much longer to turn brown once sliced. Citing that this GMO apple would improve sales and consumption in American markets, the company is being met with resistance from U.S. apple growers who are weary of the product.

Considering that “GMO” and “healthy” are rarely used to describe the same thing, the concept of this apple gets even more peculiar. While GMO crops are often altered to resist disease or pests, this apple is being altered for aesthetics. Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety called it a “botox apple.” And he’s pretty spot on.

“Arctic,” as its manufacturer, Okanagan Specialty Fruits, has named the apple, uses technology that turns off the enzyme responsible for browning during oxidation. If you cut an apple and leave it sit on your counter for a bit, it will begin to brown within a matter of minutes. It’s still highly edible for quite some time, but the oxidation process eventually does what it’s designed to do to uneaten food—decompose. The decomposition won’t stop with this technology; you just won’t be able to see it. That’s what you might call, “a bad apple.”

With the number of fast food restaurants now serving apple slices in order to healthy up their kid’s menu items, it’s certainly going to appeal to retailers such as McDonald’s and Burger King who would benefit by being able to sell apples that are actually much older than they appear.

Arctic’s highly deceptive appearance stands in stark contrast to the nutritious symbolism we’ve come to associate with apples.  If Arctic apples make their way into the food chain, it begs the question: what will happen to Apple Brown Betty recipes? And if an apple a day keeps the doctor away, what does a freak GMO apple do? How do you like them apples? Well, Canada, we don’t.

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Photo by Abhijit Tembhekar Courtesy of Creative Commons