Modern Farmer
By Adrick Brock

It seems like a given: slice an apple in the morning and by lunchtime those slices will have turned a rusty brown. Most of us have learned to accept that nature comes with blemishes, but apples that brown may be a thing of the past if the U.S. Department of Agriculture gives its approval to the newest GMO on the block, the non-browning Arctic Apple.

Neal Carter is an orchardist in Summerland, British Columbia, and the president of Okanagan Specialty Fruits (OSF). He says his GM apple is at the forefront of a new wave in biotech: quality traits. “As a GMO apple this is ‘biotech light,’” says Carter. “This is a very innocuous intervention where we’ve used an apple’s own DNA to turn off the protein called polyphenol oxidase that makes it go brown.”

Carter feels sure his Arctic Apples will pass final approval by the USDA and go on to find success in both the bourgeoning pre-sliced apple market and in the fresh fruit aisles of grocery stores. The first batch of Arctic Granny Smith and Golden Delicious apples made the rounds in consumer surveys last year, and Carter says that the response was overwhelmingly positive. According to the results, 80 percent of those who tried the GMO fruit would be willing to buy it if and when it’s made available.

The U.S. Apple Association (USApple) represents the apple industry on a national and international level. In a statement released this past July, it openly opposed deregulation of the Arctic Apple — but not due to concerns over safety and health.

“We don’t see that there’s any flaw in the technology as far as a safety issue,” Wendy Brannen, USApple’s director of consumer health and public relations, reiterated in a phone interview. What does concern her is how the public will react.

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