The USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has reopened the public comment period on Arctic Apple's genetically modified apple.
Public comments on the apple will be accepted through Jan. 30, 2014. The original deadline was Dec. 9, 2013.
Designed by Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc., a Canadian company, the genetically modified Arctic Apples resist browning, which critics of the technology say could increase health risks to consumers. Without the browning oxidation effect, which signals the freshness of a sliced apple, consumers are more at risk of eating apples with a higher bacterial load and potential contamination risk.
The technology serves the benefit of the food industry, with the GMO apples having an extended shelf-life. Apple slices have recently been added to children's menus at restaurants including McDonald's as healthier options—and genetically modified Arctic Apples could find their way into fast food menus eventually.
APHIS told Arctic Apple stakeholders that the decision to extend the comment period was “due to numerous request for additional time to prepare and submit comments.”
The Canadian company's genetically modified apple has already received approval from APHIS, with two varieties (Arctic Granny and Arctic Golden) of the apples given non-regulation status. The agency noted that the apples “have the potential to improve fruit processing capabilities for maintain the quality and shelf life."
OSF President Neal Carter said that despite the added comment period, the company expected a final decision on deregulation “in early 2014."
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