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The U.S. Department of Agriculture, USDA, subdivision Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced its decision to allow the Arctic Golden and Arctic Granny non-browning apples. The GMO apples that resist browning are made possible because of biotechnology by the Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc or OSF, headquartered in Canada.
The controversial apple’s approval process has been continuing for several years. In the USDA announcement of the genetically modified apple they said that it is unlikely to be a plant or pest risk. In addition, it is not likely to have a significant impact on the environment, according to the USDA announcement.
The genetically modified organism or GMO, arctic apple is said to probably be the most tested apple on earth, according to the creator of the apple, Okanagan. The Canadian-based company went on to say that they can not wait until the apples are available for consumption by the general public.
These GMO apples have met great opposition from the Organic Consumers Association or OCA. The OCA petitioned for the USDA to deny approval. The reason is because the genetic changes that prevent the browning might be harmful to people, and pesticide levels could be high too.
OCA director, Ronnie Cummins, will be pressuring the food companies to not use the GMO apples. On the OCA website, 70 percent of Canadians are opposed to the genetically modified apple. Another concern is that bees will cross-pollinate the genetically modified apple tree’s pollen.
The Food and Drug Administration or FDA, is currently looking into a meeting with Okanagan. This meeting will be voluntary because the FDA’s area is not in genetically modified foods, the meeting is a precautionary measure about the brown-resistant GMO apples.
Many environmental, science, and consumer groups have said that they worry the genetic alterations could have unforeseen consequences on humans, animals, and insects. Doug Gurian-Sherman, a senior scientist at the Center for Food Safety and plant pathologist, said there are possible risks not considered yet.
The difference between the GMO Arctic apples and the apples found in a kid’s meal are that the kid’s meal apples have chemicals put in them. The GMO apples will come from trees that produce the GMO arctic apples.
The idea behind the apples is that they do not turn brown when cut or bruised, to cut down on food waste and expand the market for freshly sliced fruit. Okanagan simply reduced the enzyme found in apples that is responsible for their browning. Okanagan assures Bloomberg that the fruit is nutritionally equal to unaltered apples.
The president of Okanagan, Neal Carter said the USDA approval to be “a monumental occasion.” He went on to say that this is the biggest thing to happen to them yet. Carter said the apples will be available in late 2016, but not very many will be available.
The actual wide release date is in many years because they still have to wait for the trees to grow. Right now, Okanagan’s focus is to work with growers to plant the genetically altered apple trees. Another petition is ongoing at the OCA website to stop the brown-resistant GMO apples.
By Jacob Dowd
Photo by olle svensson – License